I think one of the hardest things we can face as Christians is silence. That looming feeling that somehow, the lines of communication between us and God have been snipped. It’s as though our collect call to Heaven has reached the limit of God’s purses or our own personal offering of a few dimes in the pay slot has expired. It feels as though a friend that we were once close with has suddenly slipped away from us. Someone’s Walkie Talky run out of batteries and the other person is entirely unaware.
I’ve recently wondered if Jesus felt this way as he waited upon his Father mere hours before his arrest. We find him in Matthew 26, fervently asking for a change in fate. His famous words encapsulated by Luke saying
Father, if you are willing, take away this cup of suffering. But do what you want, not what I want.
The very thing that would ultimately save the world was a burden Christ wished to bear in another form. Not by the cross, not by the whip; he fell to his knees in anguish for just another way. His life of self-sacrifice and great calling came together singularly in the following hours and still, his heart longed for a different course. Our daily challenges, unknowingly preparing us for the future, are nothing in comparison to God’s great sacrifice. Still, they often draw us to our own knees in prayer for a different route. We desire to be alleviated of our pain, to be given a more successful call, to be dealt a more fair hand, for answers, or for our dreams to be fulfilled. Yet, we find ourselves in a place quite different from our preference and God seems to be elsewhere.
It is most often in those moments that we long for a different fate that we find ourselves at odds with our own ability to successfully hear the voice of God. Is it that he is silent or simply that our own desire for a change in scenery overpower any word he might deliver us in that moment?
These vulnerable times of walking through the desert without hearing the Lord’s voice are trying. Have we strayed? Did we sin unknowingly? Is our request for a different path falling on deaf ears because we lack faith in God’s awesome power? The longer we march through the dry land, the louder these questions echo.
The desert leaves us a choice. The silence does not force us to take on the belief that God has canceled his cell phone plan as we are so quick to assume, instead it positions us for a very pivotal decision in our faith: Do we choose to deny that God is still at work or do we choose to continue faithfully serving him and seeking to glorify him in all we are even when he is silent? Truth is, even when we stop everything else keeps going. Even when we cannot see or hear God, he is still moving, speaking, and being glorified in the world around. Choosing to be faithful and acknowledge this is the exact opposite of our fleshly response to God’s seeming absence in our lives.
Silence is a hard thing to swallow, but we are ultimately gifted an opportunity to grow our faith in those moments. We are handed a chance to act out our faith and take it beyond an emotional response to living.
What we experience as God’s absence or distance or silence is phenomenological. It’s how we perceive it. It’s how at some point it looks and feels but it isn’t how it is. (Jon Bloom)
God may seem silent in your life right now. He may seem to have dealt you a difficult hand only to leave you to pick up the pieces. You may be longing for a different path and struggle to see the relevance this dry land journey has on your life, but I guarantee you that he has a purpose for even these moments of wondering. He has a purpose for allowing you to walk where you stand and has not abandoned you.
The lines of communication may seem broken, but I assure you that God is not finished. He is still working and moving behind the scenes of your life and in places all around you. Will you choose to acknowledge his presence or succumb to the overwhelming feeling that he has left the building?