Tuesday, March 22

Why Does God Seem Absent Or Silent In Our Lives At Times?

There are times in an individual's life where it seems as if God is silent, or even absent. "Why have you abandoned me," the individual inquires, with no audible response. At these times, we wonder, "Lord, where are you? Why are you silent?" Does God's Word offer answers... and is God truly silent, or are we simply not listening hard enough? (Photo credit: Captiol Columns)

In 1st Kings 19:9-10, we read an account concerning the prophet Elijah. Let us first examine the account. "And the word of the LORD came to him, 'What are you doing here, Elijah?' He replied, 'I have been very zealous for the LORD God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, torn down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.'"

Verses 11-13a continue, "The Lord said, 'Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the LORD, for the LORD is about to pass by." Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire, And after the fire came a still, small voice."

Here, we determine that Elijah's fallible ideas fell flat. Elijah had believed that God had abandoned him, that God was silent. Then, God showed up - not in the wind, not in the earthquake, not in the fire - but in a still, small voice. God revealed to Elijah that he was not alone at all in 1st Kings 19:18, "Yet I reserve seven thousand in Israel - all whose knees have not bowed down to Baal and whose mouths have not kissed him." (Baal was a pagan god.)

In the same way, sometimes it seems as if God has abandoned us, that He is absent or even silent. Bear in mind, God is never silent. It is whether or not we take the opportunity to listen to the "still small voice" of God. That is not to say that God does not have a loud, audible voice, but sometimes, He speaks to us through other means, not a loud, audible voice. This can be related to what Jesus said concerning parables:

"In them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah: 'You will be ever hearing but never understanding; you will be ever seeing but never perceiving. For this people's heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts..." (Matthew 13:14-15a) God is never silent, but sometimes we simply do not take the time to listen, or we do not listen hard enough.

God is active in every part of our life. He knows the number of hairs on our head (Mark 10:30; Luke 12:7), He is with us always (Matthew 28:20), He helps us through life (Isaiah 41:13), He establishes our plans (Proverbs 16:3), His eyes "saw [our] unformed body, All the days ordained for [us] were written in [His] book, before one of them came to be." (Psalm 139:16)

God also speaks to us through His Word. We need to be mindful of this. Consider Isaiah 55:8-11. "'For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are my ways your ways,' declares the LORD. 'As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it."

When it appears as if God is silent or absent in our life, perhaps what we ought to consider is if we are silent or absent toward Him. Are we listening hard enough, are we still listening for His voice? We need to block our the white noise of the world and listen to the glorious voice of the King. It is not God who is never-faithful, it is the individual.

Consider the words of Psalm 146:6, "He is the Maker of heaven and earth, the sea, and everything in them - He remains faithful forever." Indeed, even John confirms this, "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness." (1st John 1:9, emphasis added) God is ever-faithful, ever-present, ever-loving. But are we returning the faith? Are we returning the love?

How then can we recognize the voice of God? In 1st Samuel 3:1-10, we read the infamous account of Samuel, Eli, and God. God calls to Samuel three times, and twice he thought it was Eli, until Eli told him that if the voice called again, to say, "Speak Lord, for your servant is listening." (1st Samuel 3:9) In another instance, Gideon, who was one of Israel's Judges, asked for a physical sign though he had just spoken with God, and doubted: three times. (Judges 6:17-22, 36-40)

Bear in mind that we have something that neither Samuel nor Gideon had: the Word of God. When we wonder about certain things in life, seek first what God has to say about it via His Word. All too often, we ask God questions which He has already answered through the Bible. As Titus 1:2 reveals, "in the hope of eternal life, which God, who does not lie, promised before the beginning of time;" from this we can glean that God does not lie, it is against His very nature. His nature is perfect, and lies and perfection cannot mesh, they are mutually exclusive.

Jesus conveyed in John 10:27, "My sheep listen to my voice; no one will snatch them out of my hand." How do we hear God's voice? Those who belong to Jesus hear His voice, not those who have not accepted Him. Generally, we hear His voice through a myriad of ways: careful prayer, time spent in God's Word, the like. God speaks through God the Spirit (The Holy Spirit), directly to our consciences, and also speaks through His Word.

While it is possible to hear the audible voice of God, He generally speaks to us through our conscience or through His Word. Be sure to spend time in prayer. Prayer is crucial and vital to the life of every believer. Note Colossians 1:9-10, which state, "For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of God." Go and do likewise.

Why does God seem absent or silent in our lives at times? Perhaps we are not paying attention to what is important. Perhaps we are not listening close enough to hear His "still small voice,", and when it seems like we cannot hear Him, to believe by faith.

Troy Hillman

1 comment:

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