When I think about the times when I thought God truly seemed silent, it always seems they were the moments when I needed his reply the most. Have you ever asked yourself in the middle of the day, "What happened? God feels so silent..." You know He's there, but you can't hear Him or feel His presence.
I have experienced this silence too.
My mother and I moved to a new province to be with my father. We made this decision according to our thoughts that God would want us to choose being with family or everything else. We didn't need to search for a Bible verse to know that.
As we started living life in this new place, I, a city girl, felt the extreme contrast between luxurious city life and the harsh, polluted environment the province offered. (It's not a farming kind of province but a semi-province that is on its way being a city.) I didn't know the provincial language either; the people were like foreigners to me, speaking gibberish.
You can call it culture shock, but I stress out and get depressed from a bombardment of unpleasantness. It wasn't so much the place as it is the negative people surrounding me. Little by little, this unpleasantness became the focus of my eyes. I would go about a normal day when suddenly, it was all silence, and I felt alone. I would pray for God to heal my brokenness and claim His victory on the cross, but I would cry, "God, no matter what I do, I only feel your silence."
What I came to realize was this: God is only silent if we allow our ears to be deaf to His voice.
Elijah was worried and overwhelmed by the serious hardships of his life (1 Kings 19:10). For him to hear God's voice, he had to take the time to really listen for God. Look at what happened next:
"And he said, 'Go out and stand on the mount before the Lord.' And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore the mountains and broke in pieces the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. And after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire the sound of a low whisper." —1 Kings 19:11-12
What was that whisper that came after all the noise? It was God's voice. Elijah had to focus, calm himself in the storm of noise, and listen for God's whispering. Elijah waited through wind, earthquake, and fire before he finally heard God's voice in "the sound of a low whisper." If you read on, you find Elijah confessing that he had allowed everything in his life to become bigger than God. Just like Elijah, I had to stop and take time to hear God, to feel His presence. And I finally figured out why He brought us to the province.
God's voice is often the sound of low whisper. If we can't hear it, maybe we're paying too much attention to the noises around us instead of Him. If God seems silent, maybe we've neglected to listen for His voice&;mdashlike Elijah.
Have you allowed the cares of this world to plug your spiritual ears? Have you neglected listening to God through His Word? Remember, God doesn't speak through burning bushes these days, but through the Bible and through whisperings of the Holy Spirit in our hearts. (Also see: How can I know if I am hearing God's voice?)
Read the Bible. We have all felt that guilt from knowing we aren't reading the Bible enough. But God's Word is alive and active and reading it will penetrate your heart if you allow it (Hebrews 4:12). Surrounding yourself with His love letter to you will turn His "absence" into His presence. Reminding yourself of His truths will strengthen your faith in Him (John 16:13).
Talk to God. Like cutting a balloon from its string, we cut off God if we do not talk to Him in prayer. Prayer is our communication with Christ (Philippians 4:6-7). You cannot have a conversation without prayer. You cannot have His presence without inviting Him to talk to you. Remember that our God is a relational God; He would like you to trust Him and grow in your faith—whether you think He's there or not (John 20:21).
Enjoy His Presence. Our emotions can be deceitful and convince us of lies (Jeremiah 17:9), but remind yourself that God is with you even if you don't feel it. Joshua 1:9 tells us, "Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go." God is with you always; nothing can hide you from Him.
We know in our minds that God cannot be absent in our lives because He is omnipresent (Jeremiah 23:24). We know God watches over us (Psalm 121:5). We know that, in theory, God has something great planned for our lives (Jeremiah 29:11). But sometimes we still just don't hear Him when we want to hear from Him.
One thing we need to keep in mind is that God is not a vending machine. Sometimes what we want from Him is something He is going to say "no" to, but that doesn’t mean He has left you or is ignoring you. Let's take the example of a history exam in school...
I remember taking an exam and getting stuck on a question that was really hard. I called out to God, "Please, Lord should I shade the letter A or B? Maybe C's the right answer? Please tell me!"
Well, He didn't tell me the answer. Did I feel abandoned and neglected? Sure, I did. Had God left me? Was He ignoring me? Of course not!
God wasn't going to answer my test question for me. Getting me a good grade is not His job. Proverbs 12:11 says, "Whoever works his land will have plenty of bread, but he who follows worthless pursuits lacks sense." Next time I needed to take an exam, I told myself, "Okay, let's actually study," because doing well on the test is my responsibility.
Psalm 37:4 says, "Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart." One of my desires is to feel close to God, and that is what He wants for me too. Truly rejoicing or "delighting" in the eternal things of God, such as growing in Christlikeness, will help us focus on His voice during all the wind, earthquakes, and other noises in our lives. When we listen for His low whisper, our desires may begin to parallel His, we will be fulfilled, and we will find those times when we feel alone growing fewer and fewer.
Renz is a Literary Writer in her campus media. She giggles a lot, loves to read the Bible, and her passion for the Lord leads her to victory every day.