Sunday, January 10, 2010

When All We Hear From God is Silence

Can You Hear Me Now, God?

It happens to every single person alive...even those whom theretofore hadn't prayed. A time of desperation or longing when we cry out to God: Fix this. Change this. Heal this. And we hear nothing in response. What does it mean when God is silent in the face of our anguished pleas? Does it mean He doesn't care, or worse, He doesn't even exist?

I've experienced the quiet echoes of prayers unanswered. When my mother lay in her hospital bed unconscious, doctors explained that her brain was dead and she'd never wake up. I begged God to prove them wrong. She never again responded to my voice or looked into my eyes and soon slipped away from this world permanently while God was silent.

When my daughter was just moving into her teen years and began battling serious health issues I fasted and prayed all the time for her to be healed. There were several years of painful uncertainty while God never seemed to offer a response. Was He too busy? Didn't He care? Was it too difficult for Him?

As Jesus went to the Garden of Gethsemane and asked God to change his circumstances, only to receive silence in response, I have to wonder if those same questions flitted through his mind. Even if they did, the truth won out as Jesus accepted this silence as temporary. He knew God was there and would take him through the trial.

There can be various reasons for God's silence. Perhaps He's spoken often in the past and we didn't pay attention. Perhaps He wants us to pursue a difficult path without easing the load to gain strength and stamina. Maybe He's teaching us that we have to trust Him even unto death—of a loved one or even our own.

His love, mercy and power don't exist solely when we can hear God's voice or feel His presence. Similarly, our faith (by definition) needs to remain in tact even when difficult circumstances don't change and we aren't "hearing" God's response to our pleading cries.

Christians are quick to share stories of answered prayers and feel-good "miracles" but not so verbal about times when pain and strife persisted in spite of faithful prayer. These stories are just as important because the outcome for those who remain faithful is still victory. God will eventually let His presence be felt and His voice be heard again when the waiting is over. Only He knows why and when. What we do know is that He is suffering along with us, even in His silence.

If you are hearing echoes of your own prayers right now, don't lose faith. Be encouraged that even in His silence God stands with you. He is teaching you, refining you and making you more grace-filled. Be assured that some day you will have a story to share of answered prayer, because the silence isn't permanent. It's only a pause. In my case, I later realized that He was whispering to me all along that my mom was fine...she was stepping into His arms. And my daughter's health crisis abated, shaping her into a more courageous and faith-filled adult.

Have you ever experienced God's silence? Did your faith waver? Did He ever speak up?Share your story here.
Diane Markins

7 comments:

Godwoman, April Lorier said...

Diane, I enjoy your writing style very much. I especially liked your recent devotional (flabby muscles) for CBN. I wish I had written it! :-D

Yes, I have encountered the silence of God. Since I am not normally a patient person, it was as hard for me as for one of my young trees I was pruning. But I'll be bushy and beautiful at that last Day!

Keep writing!

Diane Markins said...

I don't often comment here but just loved April's response above and since I don't know her to thank her personally, I'm saying it here: Thanks sister! You have encouraged me too.

Amy said...

It is 2am in the morning and I can't sleep. I am overwhelmed with the silence of God in my life right now. I am the one who has been crying out "where are you?" I never thought in a million years I would ever doubt... I know better, but for the past couple of years it has been difficult. I am a stay at home working wife and mother. My husband and I are only holding on by a thread. You never think your life is going to turn out like this...i just want everything to get better..you know?

Diane Markins said...

I woke up to Amy's comment this morning. I humbly thank you Amy, because it drove me to my knees for a significant time of prayer. It made me recall times where I too felt overwhelmed with God's silence. Such loneliness, such hopelessness...
But I can tell you that as I chose to trust God for one more day (day after day), or one more moment, things finally began to improve and I began to feel God's presence and see Him lovingly moving through the circumstances of my life. I am praying that God lets you hear from Him this very day and encourages you unmistakeably. I want you to know that I've forwarded your comment to our prayer team and asked that you be covered in prayer. I invite you to go to my website, fill out the contact page and get in touch with me so that I can encourage you personally. Please know that God has not left you today or ever.
True Blessings,
Diane

D Wood said...

Amy, don't give up hope. At times, I thought I was alone too, and then some way or some how there would be a blessing reminding me there is a god. Be patient, your blessing will come. D Wood

Tiffani said...

Amy, Stay in faith. Some of the most powerful lessons are found in silence. I pray you find comfort in knowing you are not alone on your journey. God has a special plan for your life and it will be revealed in his time. Reaching out to others may help during this time. God Bless you and your family.

Diane, Thanks for sending this to the prayer team.
Tiffani Kinghorn-Clayton

Amy said...

Who knew that my cries out to God at 2 am in the morning would result in such a pooring out of love and encouragement from complete strangers. I have felt alone for a long time..trying to battle on my own and feeling that no victory was in sight. I can't tell you how blessed I feel knowing you all have been praying for me. It gives me strength and hope. Thank you so much to Diane and to the readers who have responded and who are praying for me. Amy