Friday, May 20, 2011

When God is silent

What do we do when God seems to be silent? Firstly, before we ponder on the subject, we are in agreement that we believe in a God who speaks. In fact, the Scriptures are full of references to a God who speaks and communicates with His people. The Good Shepherd speaks and we as His sheep do hear His voice. Well, some may debate that God is not a chatterbox (as there are people who are always hearing God speaking to them every moment) whereas some may hold the notion that God is interested in every minute detail of our lives and that He does indeed speak to us on any issue that we communicate with Him. Debates aside, I sincerely believe that God speaks to us as much as we would like to hear from Him. The level of hunger and intimacy of our relationship with Christ are crucial whilst not forgetting, the Sovereignty of God. Very often, the modern Christians have failed to have a healthy perspective of the Sovereign God we serve. The Almighty God of heavens and the earth has been reduced to a year-round "santa claus" with a dispensing machine feature. The "God has to do what I asked Him to do" and "He must speak when I asked HIm to" attitudes are prevalent amongst the modern believers today.

Coming back to the subject of this post, like it or not, there are times and seasons when God seems to be silent. There may be a season where we experience the abundance of His still small voice, visions, dreams and perhaps, divine encounters. And there are times when we need very much to hear from the Lord but all that we hear is just a divine silence. It is true that divine silence can be a way that God speaks to His people. Is it not amazing that even in silence, God is "speaking" to us? Just like in a relationship between a husband and wife or a parent and a child. Before entering into an argument or in the midst of an argument, there might be a "cold war session" where a party speaks and the other party refuses to respond - just pure silence. More often than not, such silence is usually a sign of disapproval or disagreement that is being communicated by the silent party. Having said that, we do not usually experience a prolonged silence in the communication between a husband and wife or a parent and child. It would be an unhealthy sign to have a prolonged silence, which could signify a break-down in the relationship.

Therefore, in God's silence, we are also to learn what is He communicating with us and how do we respond to Him in such times. We would not want to have a prolonged silence in our relationship with our Loving Savior. Let's take a look at a couple of probable reasons that would cause God to be silent (these are certainly not exhaustive). First of all is the obvious factor of sin. Even though many would like to avoid this issue of sin but the truth is when we have sinned and failed to repent, we inevitably close the door of divine communication in our lives. God, in His great mercies, convicts us through His Holy Spirit and continues to "speak" to us in different manner to lead us back to Him. No, He doesn't condemn us for He has already provided the solution for sin through His Son but His desire is for our hearts to return to Him in true repentance. God is restoring the revelation of His holiness amongst His people in the last days and if we respond to Him, we will all catch the revelation of the splendour and majesty of the Great Jehovah God in the beauty of His holiness. If sin is the issue, let us draw near to His throne of grace in brokenness and sincerity that we may enjoy unbroken communion and fellowship with our Bridegroom again.

However, if we continue in our rebellion and refuse to repent, we are in a danger of falling into a state of deafness. In Luke 10:13, Jesus described such terrible state when He declared, "Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes." Bethsaida is a place where God fed the five thousand people and performed other mighty wonders and miracles and yet despite such display of God's power, the hearts of the people refused to return and repent. Such wicked and ungrateful hearts would inevitably lead them to the folly of their sins and a place where the voice of God is no longer heard. May this verse be a constant reminder to us all not to fall into such state of rebellion leading to deafness in the spirit.

Disobedience also leads to the sad state of not hearing from God. The Bible tells us of an account when the heavens become brass and God seemed to be silent in the life of King Saul in 1 Samuel 28:6 - "And when Saul inquired of the LORD, the LORD did not answer him, either by dreams or by Urim or by the prophets." This is an account where God deliberately refused to answer King Saul. God chose to remain silent. Why? At this point in King Saul's life, we have read that God has rejected him due to his continued disobedience. Hence, it is a tragic place to end up in for King Saul. It is always good to ask the Holy Spirit to search our hearts, especially when we feel that God is silent in our lives. As the Lord shows us our sins or disobedience, let us run to the Mercy Seat and seek His forgiveness, cleansing and restoration. Perhaps, God has given us clear instructions or commandments and we did not obey them. We will not receive another set of fresh instructions until we start obeying what we have been instructed by Him. This may also be true for many people who are asking for directions from God, i.e. we will not receive new directives until we have obeyed what we know God has asked us to do.

It must also be rightly pointed out that not all divine silence has to do with our sin, rebellion or disobedience. It could well be God's purposeful withdrawal of Himself for a season. In our walk and journey with God, there will be times when He withdraws Himself from us in love. This is a time when God desires to lead us into a new level of walk, a deeper degree of intimacy or a new season with Him. For the careful and watchful seekers and lovers of God, such silence would spur them to a renewed passion for the Lord. It is a good time to be awakened from our complacency and not to rest on our laurels. For some, the mundane has led them to a rut and such divine withdrawals are actually God's intentional drawing and wooing of His bride. With a renewed hunger and passion, we seek after Him knowing that He will not disappoint us. It can also be a season of pruning and letting go of unnecessary entanglements in our lives, which would be preparatory for us to be propelled into the next season with the Lord. Oh, how amazing and wondrous are the ways of our God!

Lastly, such times of divine silence should provoke within us a holy awe towards our God. We are to recognize the awesome sovereignty of God. Even if He chooses not to speak, we will still follow Him and love Him. When God is silent, I choose to worship Him and acknowledge Him as my Master, Lord and King. He has the prerogative not to speak when He chooses not to. My response is a loving abandonment to Him wholly. This is a time where true worship and adoration rises up within us and be poured out at His feet. We love Him not just for what He has done but for who He is.

On a practical note, whether we are in a season of God's silence or the abundance of His voice in our lives, we are to attune ourselves to the frequencies of Heaven at all times. We should never forsake the reading of His word and the private times of personal prayer and worship. These are avenues for His people to be aligned to their spiritual identity and heritage whilst living in this world. Sadly, the modern Christians today have forsaken the treasures of His Word, prayer and worship in their lives leading them to a destitute state of living. Substitutes like social networking, modern gadgets, good music, entertaining messages and social blogs fall short of nourishing our spiritual lives. Many are in deception whilst some are in ignorance or just being indifferent. It is high time to be awake and our prayer is that many hearts will be opened for the Holy Spirit to work in so that the lives of every Christian be ignited with the passion and love for His Word and to spend much time praying, fellowshipping, worshipping and communing with the Lord in greater intensity. Amen.

2 responses:

  1. Thank You for such clarity about God's silence. All points were clear, however I found myself rereading the section on drawing to a new level several times. God's spirit reminded me that there is a difference between silence that is a woo and delivers or as you said, "does not disappoint" and one that dangles to the point of emotional abuse. Thanks again.

    1. YES!! Thank you for having the courage to say it. It's almost cruel--that "dangling". It's been used to reveal a residue of anger within me that can't rest or trust that kind of "lack" of guidance and comfort. That is an important experience to admit exist within the walk/journey (as Moses experienced when he became so frustrated--telling God to give guidance on what to do next with Israel (after leaving Egypt) or he would not take a step further.