There are these moments in our lives when God seems to be silent. Even when it can feel discouraging to not hear from God, one of the things I love about the Bible is that the people in it are just like you and me, and they struggled with the very same things we do.
In God’s Word, we see a whole list of people who had times in their lives when they did not hear God. Here’s a quick rundown of just a few:
In the book of Job, for 37 chapters, Job is calling out to God and hearing nothing. It’s so bad he actually says something in Job 30: “I cry out to you, God, but you do not answer; I stand up, but you merely look at me.” Job’s friends had a lot to say in response to Job’s call, but God was silent.
Abraham was called by God to sacrifice his one and only son. He’s 100 years old, he finally has a child, and God calls him and says to him, “I want you to sacrifice your only son.” Could you imagine the deafening sound of God’s silence as Abraham prepares to sacrifice his son? Abraham lifts up his knife to do what God called him to do, and in that moment, he hears God saying, “Abraham! Abraham!” and God provides another way so he doesn’t have to sacrifice his son, but for a while, God seemed silent.
How about Noah? Noah spent a full year on a huge boat full of animals. After the flood, he had to wait for God to say, “It’s time to come out of the boat.” One full year of hearing nothing, after a traumatic experience, locked on a boat with my family and all these animals – wouldn’t you start to wonder where God was? I know I would.
How about Esther? Esther lost her parents at a young age, and was taken away from her family and friends to be a concubine to the king. I wonder if, in that time when she was being moved away from her home to be now a slave to the king, did she hear anything from God?
Or Mary. In the midst of labor pains, about to have her child, she has to stay in a stable. I know. We have cute nativity scenes that look really pretty, but the reality is that a stable is a stinky and dirty place. It’s where animals would feed and sleep, and that’s where Mary has her child. Do you think there was a time when Mary felt God was silent?
Let’s look at King David, one of the most famous ones. Time and time again, he wrote about when God seemed silent. Psalm 13 says:
“How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and day after day have sorrow in my heart? How long will my enemy triumph over me?”
I have said something similar to God before, crying out, “How long?” When there is silence, when we are asking for God and we hear nothing, the very first thought we have is, “How long is this going to last?”
In Psalm 69, David wrote: “I am worn out calling for help; my throat is parched. My eyes fail, looking for my God.”
In Psalm 22, David wrote famous words quoted by Jesus himself on the cross: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from my cries of anguish? My God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer, by night, but I find no rest.”
This is just a sampling of the many people in the Bible who have these seasons in their lives when they felt God was silent and unavailable. These are amazing men and women of God, aren’t they? If they struggle with this, we know that it’s OK if we do, too.
Are you feeling today maybe God seems silent? Have you been asking, “How long, God?” and you’ve heard nothing?
At Christmas, we’re reminded that God is no longer silent. We may feel alone sometimes or we may not hear his voice, but we know that he sent Jesus to Earth to be our Emmanuel, or God with Us.
In the person of Jesus we see what God is like. At Christmastime it’s tempting to see Jesus as a cute, tiny baby, but while that’s true, he really came to be a savior from our sin, to show us what God is like. This Christmas season, particularly if you feel like God is silent, I challenge you to read the Gospels. Read about how Jesus spoke to people, how he loved people, how he showed up in our messy, angry, dirty world and showed us the ultimate love. This is the story of Christmas, of a God who does not stay silent, but who entered our world and sacrificed himself on our behalf.
In Scripture, we can hear God speak. Lean into his Word this Christmas, and let him speak into your life.
How do you want to hear from God? Journal through a reading of the Gospels and ask God to speak through his Word. As we saw from our Biblical examples, it’s not uncommon to feel that God is silent, but we also now have the example and words of Jesus to lean on. Lean into him this Christmas!