I sat down to my computer, wanting to write a more upbeat blog than the last; as the last was kind of depressing. So, I opened my Bible to Psalms chapter 10, since it’s the next chapter in our series entitled, “Walk Through Psalms.” As I read, I began to realize chapter 10 was a continuation of chapter 9; which had dealt with the subject of oppression. I tried to bask in every ray of sunshine within the chapter, but just as I started to warm, the clouds of gloom rolled over to obscure the light.
The chapter opens with David questioning God. He prays, “Lord why do you stay so far away? Why do you hide from people in times of trouble?” The human part of me wants to cheer David on by saying, “Good question, David, I’d like to know the answer too!” I looked to verse 2 to obtain the Lord’s answer; however none was given. In fact, God is silent throughout the whole chapter, making David’s conversation seemingly one-sided.
I hate those kinds of conversations! Don’t you? As an introvert, silent spaces make me extremely uncomfortable. I feel the need to fill the gap; but the problem being, most of the time I fill the gap with something stupid, idiotic and sounding like it came from the Twilight Zone.
Oh, and voice messages are the worst! I freaking never know how to end my message. As I ramble on, scenes of the “hearer” laughing at my idiotic message, pop in my head, and I blush. I actually blush!
Such is the life of an introvert. Phones are not our friend… (except for taking pictures and checking Facebook) However, in such situations, I’ve learned to laugh at myself and pat myself on the back with the thought of…”…well…at least you made someone laugh.” It helps, a little, but not a perfect antidote to cover the shame. Aren’t we suppose to embrace our weirdness! Weirdos Unite! ….I digress….
Sometimes, as Christians, when it comes to our prayer life, the conversations feel a bit one-sided. We pray and God is silent. Often those silent moments become extremely long, and it’s so uncomfortable. We want answers and we want them now, but when it comes time for God’s reply all we hear are crickets. Silence. What do we do when God is silent?
Of course the answer is: “Just have faith!” Easier said than done. Having faith can become difficult in any christian’s life. It doesn’t matter how strong of a christian you are, the bottom line is; “When life sucks, faith doesn’t come easy.” We can’t conjure it up on our own; God has to give us faith, but when he is silent…then what?
I remember years ago, when I had a miscarriage; some well-meaning christian quoted Romans 8:28–“…all things work together for good…” or Philippians 4:28–“…I can do all things through Christ…” Let me tell you, that was the last thing I wanted or needed to hear. The flippant answer of “well…just have faith” is not what someone, who’s life has just been turned upside-down, needs to hear. Instead, they need someone to cry with them, someone to hold their hand, someone to say it isn’t fair, and someone to say it sucks! They need someone to “be Jesus” rather than attempting to “talk” like Jesus. The old sayings, “talk is cheap” and “actions speak louder than words” are very relevant in these situations. Easy solutions to a broken heart, only serve to “devalue” rather than “diminish” pain.
So what must we do with the silence? Let’s make it practical…I’ve said before I love “practical Christianity.” After all, if you can’t use Christianity in your everyday life then what good is it? Our salvation is so much more than a “get out of hell free” ticket. Jesus said, ” I came that [you] may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to the full, till it overflows).” He cares about our life…here…right now…on this earth! He desires a personal relationship with each of us; therefore, he cares about our daily lives. If He didn’t, he wouldn’t know the number of hairs on our head. He wouldn’t assure us that He’s ever present, by saying… He even sees when a sparrow falls to the ground. He tells us all of these things, because He wants us to know, He cares about our life…our everyday life.
Back to practicality…what can we do? Remember, I claim to be no scholar, but these have helped me in the past…so maybe, they’ll help you too…
- Realize it’s okay to question, wonder, doubt or even be mad as hell. Sometimes we just need to “be”… Wherever you find yourself, just be. Validate your feelings whatever they are. Jesus did this when he spoke these words in the garden of Gethsemane, “…let this cup pass from me,” and again on the cross when he questioned God, “…why have you forsaken me…?” Feelings need to be validated because it’s the only way in which we work through them. Anything and everything you and I can feel Jesus has already felt it. Hebrews says this of Jesus, “…[He] is able to understand and sympathize and have a shared feeling with our weaknesses…infirmities…temptations, …[He] has been tempted in every respect as we are…”
- Realize Jesus has overcome. We have a champion in Christ. Not only has he experienced everything we can ever experience, but He has made it through to the other side. Jesus tells us…” In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
- Don’t expect quick solutions. Sometimes they occur, but more often than not, it takes time and a lot of it. I struggled with my faith for years. Early on, doubt and fear seeded itself in my mind; it took root, spread, and ran rampant. It started as a child, and continued throughout much of my young adult years. I constantly doubted my salvation and it was horrible feeling. I never, truly, had peace until I finally saw just, “who” I was in Christ. I realized my salvation had nothing to do with me but everything to do with Christ. I know, it’s a simple concept, but it took me years of God’s silence for me to understand… “it’s not about me.” So, what am I saying? I’m saying, God is silent for a reason, and often the reason is, He’s trying to teach you something, that will make you stronger and happier. Most of the time “getting to the other-side of a problem” takes time and whole lot of work; and that’s why flippant solutions and quick quotes of scripture, mean near to nothing. We need more understanding and less quick fixes.
- Seek out help from those who truly understand…those who have gone through similar trials. Solomon, one of the wisest men ever to live, wrote, “… a man’s counsel is sweet to his friend.” (Proverbs 27:9) The key-word there, being “friend.” A true friend will share the burden rather than trying to quick-fix it. We have a tremendous resource of encouragement from others who have walked the same path. God encourages us to use that resource and then to give it out as well.
- Pray. Just keep praying. There will be times when your prayers feel as mumbled words falling uselessly to the ground. Pray any way. I learned this from my mom. Know in your heart that God does hear. “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.”__ James 5:16 Pray and don’t stop, no matter what. God honors prayer. God is listening whether you feel it or not. As humans, the only constant of “our feelings” is change, but God never changes. He is the North of our compass. Pray, Pray and pray even more.
- Stay in the word. My dad use to say that all the time. Just as it helps to be diligent in our prayers we should be diligent in studying God’s word. Often, especially when we’re angry, it’s the last thing we want to do, but faith comes by “hearing” the word of God. If you’re sick of trying to read and understand scripture on your own, find a good teacher and listen to them. Joyce Meyer has been that voice for me. She’s the queen of “practical Christianity,” and as Martha Stewart says, “…that’s a good thing.” If her particular teaching style doesn’t mesh with you, that’s okay…find someone who does. There’s so many good teachers out there. The main point is to get the word of God inside of you whether it’s by reading or hearing. Singing is another good option!
I’m sure there are many many other ways to help us navigate God’s silence. I’m still learning, as I’m sure, I will be for the rest of my life. We are all a work in progress, and God knows what He’s doing…even if we don’t. So be kind to yourself!
My Prayer: Lord, I depend too much on feelings, and when I do I’m tossed to and fro like a feather in the wind. God, remind me that you never change, that your love, grace and mercy are constants in my life, even when I don’t feel them. Lord, give me faith when you are silent, and open my heart that I may learn what you teaching. Lead me to those you’ve called to help me and may I also be a help to them. Thank you Lord, for never leaving me…never forsaking me. Thank you that nothing can separate me from your love. All of this I ask in Jesus’s name. Amen.
(A publication of “Walk Through Psalms”)