When God Is Silent

There are times in each of our lives when it seems that God is silent. Especially during a time of sustained trial or when it appears that our prayers are not being answered. And unfortunately, there are some situations that we face that will not change. For instance, when a loved one has passed away and the reality settles in that they are not coming back. Perhaps a child born with a mental or physical limitation and nothing can be done to reverse it, we are required to come to terms with a different reality than we expected. Certainly life is not fair.

When we are struggling, the most immediate question that comes to mind is whether or not God is aware and if He cares. Is He really who He says He is? We wonder if He is hearing our broken hearts as we cry out to Him for His rescue.  This feeling is compounded when situations appear to have no remedy. The longer we endure an unending challenge the more difficult it can become to believe He cares. And when He is silent, the enemy leverages this silence against us. Even the strongest believer can fall prey to questioning.

If you are familiar with John the Baptist, you probably remember that he baptized Jesus. John recognized the greatness of Christ remarking, “I need to be baptized by You and You are coming to me?” In John 1:29-34, we  read that John saw the Holy Spirit come down and rest on Jesus as He came up out of the water at His baptism. John heard, as well as others that were gathered there, a voice from heaven say, “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.” John had a very tangible experience with Christ.

With this background replayed, I remind you of another exchange between Jesus and John the Baptist. This time John has been sitting in a hot, dirty jail for perhaps a year or more. He has been arrested, not for doing wrong, but for doing right—preaching the truth. This time John sends his disciples to Jesus and tells them to ask Him, “Are You the one or should we look for another?”

The long wait, the silence, perhaps even the fact that Jesus did not come to his rescue, eventually wore John down. He began to question what he was once sure of. I love Jesus’ response to John’s disciples. He demonstrates His power by healing many infirmities, afflictions, by casting out evil spirits and restoring sight to the blind (Luke 7:18-22). Then Jesus answers them, “Go tell John what you have seen. Tell him that the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the good news preached to them.” And, Jesus adds, “Tell John blessed is the one who is not offended because of Me.”

Did you notice that Jesus did not send back a promise of rescue? He simply assured John of His great power. Try to put yourself in John’s place. I wonder how I would have reacted to His answer when word came back to me. I think I would have wanted Jesus’ assurance that I was going to get out of the terrible place I was in or I might have thought perhaps Jesus had not been aware of my situation and now that He knew, surely He would come and rescue me. But this was not the answer that John received. Jesus only sends back reassurance of His mighty power. At John’s own personal low point, Jesus knew that what John needed to know was that He had power and plenty of it.

There have been times that I questioned God’s concern; times that I have doubted whether He understood my limitations, especially in times of His silence. This is a true statement: His ability, His power, does not change because of my circumstances, no matter how I feel. I’m also glad that Jesus is not affected by my doubts; neither does His love for me lessen because I question Him. If you read the whole discourse in Luke 7, you’ll see that after John’s disciples left, Jesus spoke of the greatness of John.  Jesus said, “Among those born there is not a greater prophet than John.” His love for John and His ability–neither was in jeopardy.

If you are not getting the answer you want or if you find yourself in a season that God seems silent, remind yourself that His power is the same and His love is constant even though life is not fair and bad things happen to good people. Blessed is the one who is not offended because of Jesus.