Have you ever had that moment, you’re on the phone, having a great conversation, sharing your heart and then you realize it’s really quiet on the other end. The mmms and ahhas have stopped and there isn’t even any background noise. Silence. Disconnection.
Doesn’t it sometimes feel like that with God. You’re talking away, sharing your heart and then you wonder if there really is someone on the other end of the line.
Hello? God are you there?
David felt like this.
In numerous psalms he cries out “God do not be silent to me!”
Psalm 28:1-2 says:
To You I will cry, O Lord my Rock:
Do not be silent to me,
Lest, if You are silent to me,
I become like those who go down to the pit.
Hear the voice of my supplications
When I cry to You,
When I lift up my hands toward Your holy sanctuary.
And like he says: When God is silent it’s the pits.
We wonder what has caused the disconnection. What went wrong? Was it something I said? Something I did. Someone I am?
Have you ever felt as if God was giving you the silent treatment? Perhaps you are going through a time of sickness, and despite your prayers for healing, the Lord has not intervened and healed you. Or maybe you’ve been seeking His direction for a major decision, and He’s just not answering. Maybe it feels like you have the same troubles over and over and over and over again and that God seems to be not helping in any which way or form.
There is a purpose to the silence. Everything God does is good and great and on purpose. How do we recognize the purpose and possibility in the seasons when He seems far away and quiet? How do we hear what God is saying when He is quiet?
1. Recognise what the silence ISNT
God doesn’t do the silent treatment.
Hebrews 4:16 says : Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
In the time of my greatest failure, I can run into the presence of a holy God because every failure has been covered by the blood of Christ.
When we have stuffed up we can run to God and find grace and a fresh start. He doesn’t ever turn us away. He doesn’t ever say you’re not cleaned up enough. On our best day we’re not clean enough, we’re not good enough.
Jesus bore all of God’s silence and rejection upon the cross so that we never, ever have to.
Silence isn’t to express His displeasure or disapproval. He doesn’t run hot and cold on us. He doesn’t have “I love you, I love you not” moments. He is I love you, I love you I love you. His love is constant. Forever. No matter what.
C.S. Lewis said “though our feelings come and go, God’s love for us does not.”
2. Silence is normal
Floyd McClung describes it: “You wake up one morning and all your spiritual feelings are gone. You pray, but nothing happens. You rebuke the devil, but it doesn’t change anything. You go through spiritual exercises . . . you have your friend pray for you. . . .you confess every sin you can imagine, then go around asking forgiveness of everyone you know. You fast. . . still nothing. You begin to wonder how long this spiritual gloom might last. Days? Weeks? Months? Will it ever end? . . . it feels as if your prayers simply bounce off the ceiling. In utter desperation, you cry out, ‘What’s the matter with me?’”
The truth is, there’s nothing wrong with you! This is a normal part of the testing and maturing of your friendship with God. Every Christian goes through it at least once, and usually several times. It is painful and disconcerting, but it is absolutely vital for the development of your faith. It’s normal. You are not broken or defective. You are not a bad Christian. It is normal. YOU are normal.
David experienced the silence. Job experienced the silence. John the Baptist experienced the silence.
Remind yourself about the truth of who God is. Remind yourself of the promises of God. That He will never leave your or forsake you. He says my sheep hear my voice.
There will be seasons of silence in your life. It doesn’t make you a bad Christian. The most common mistake Christians make in worship today is seeking an experience rather than seeking God. So of course when we don’t feel anything we then think God is MIA or that we’re bad Christians. When God is silent in your life, maybe He’s growing a hunger in you for the “real” Him. Yes, He wants you to sense His presence, but He’s more concerned that you trust Him than that you feel Him. Faith, not feelings, pleases God. There is purpose in the silence. God is speaking.
3. Silence is a heart check up
There are times when it seems like we have checked out in our relationship with God. We might do the motions, know the right things to say, but our hearts can become dull and a bit meh. I remember someone once telling me that if I felt far away from God to consider who had moved. Was it God? Or was it I that had walked away?
There are times when God will be intentionally silent when we are walking away from Him and going against His will and His ways. Times when He is disciplining us. But that silence is an invitation to find Him and for us to reconnect. It’s to make us aware that something isn’t right and that we cant carry on living the way we were living. It’s not an indifferent silence but an on purpose silence that He knows you will feel and that you will “get”. It’s meant to make us want Him again and to wake up to what we are doing and to get back with the programme.
Silence is God’s invitation to seek for Him. It’s His invitation for us to get real. How is our heart, really?
4. We grow in the silence
It is easy to worship God when things are going great in your life—when he has provided food, friends, family, health, and happy situations. But circumstances are not always easy. How do you worship God then? What do you do when God seems a million miles away?
The deepest level of worship is praising God in spite of pain, thanking God during a trial, trusting Him when tempted, surrendering while suffering, and loving Him when He seems silent
Take this season of silence and recognise that even in this God is speaking. Even in this God is at work. God is NEVER silent so His silence is always speaking.
Will you press in? Will you give up?
Will you keep on worshipping? Or will you begin whining?
Will you pray or pout?
Will you trust or take off?
Silence is purposeful because it necessitates character growth. It forces us into growing up and establishing security in God and God alone. We have to be confident in the character of God.
God is deliberately mysterious. We are never – until the other side of eternity – going to understand the depth, breadth, height, width and scope of God.
Isaiah 55:8-9 says: For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my 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.
God is bigger than we can imagine. He breathed out the stars. He knows the path of the lightening. He knows how many hairs you have on your head and how many hairs you have on your toes. He fashioned the mountains and knows the path of the lightening. Unfathomable greatness.
Will you press in?
Will you worship?
Will you pray?
Will you trust?
5. Silent times are often God’s means of preparation for something greater.
There’s not much trust required if someone stands beside us coaching us every inch of the way. It’s like a parent running alongside a child who’s learning to ride a bike. We want to know the parent is there because we have no confidence we can ride the bike alone. But we’d look pretty silly if we were 40 and mom or dad were still running alongside our bike. At some point in our journey with Him, God may decide to take His hand off the bike, so to speak, to see if we remember what we’ve learned and if we’re really going to live it. It’s preparation for the road ahead, which may be bumpy or difficult. It’s God taking us to the next level, building our commitment and perseverance.
Jesus was asleep in the boat during the storm. In a time of intense pressure for the disciples Jesus was quiet, the disciples presuming his silence meant Jesus was oblivious to the danger and turmoil they were facing. But as Paul Saunders said last week in the morning service. Jesus was silent because He was waiting for the disciples to stand up and have faith. His silence was preparation for something greater, the activation and release of faith in the disciples life. We are not called to be passive players in this life. God never leaves us. The Holy Spirit is within us. We walk by faith not by what we feel. There are times when God will hold our hand and say this is the way walk in it but there are other times when we are called to rise up and act like the sons and daughters of God we are. We’re called to ride, without training wheels.
The silence for Mary, Martha and Lazarus must of being terrible. Between sending a message to say Lazarus was sick and Jesus arriving was not only a period of 4 days but resulted in the death of Lazarus. Talk about the silent treatment! Where was God then? We of course know the end of the story. The silence was God’s means of preparation for something greater, the resurrection of Lazarus and one of the greatest demonstrations of Jesus’ power in the gospels. God has perfect timing.
“Note Jesus’ perspective….Heavens perspective and ours are often miles apart….we are calling things dead when they are sleeping.” Charlotte Gambill
Can you trust God when He doesn’t respond? Or does your faith waver if you don’t receive an immediate answer to your prayer? His silence does not mean He’s inactive or ignoring you. He’s already working on the situation.
6. God isn’t silent – we’re too noisy!
My kids love music. And often they’ll put their headphones off and carry on reading, doing, whatever. But the headphones and the music often then block out what our voice when we’re trying to speak to them. They’ll often come in and beause of all the noise, yell, Mum, when is it dinner time?!? The music is too loud though to hear my reply and they have to remove the headphones to hear my voice.
Often it’s the same with God. We have all the noise of life and distraction and influences and people filling up the airways of our heart. When God speaks it gets lost in the sea of all the other noise. It’s just another voice.
Jim Elliot says: “I think the devil has made it his business to monopolize on three elements: noise, hurry, crowds . . . Satan is quite aware of the power of silence.”
It’s hard to communicate how we have to make that time to hear God’s voice. Our connection and relationship is by faith, its all by what Jesus has done, nothing of my own effort or earning. Yet it grows by us saying YES to God and creating intentional relational connection – such as reading the Word, such as prayer and worship, such as what we would call a quiet time. It is through those intentional practices that we develop a familiarity with God, a friendship. The Bible says in Luke 5:16 that “Jesus often withdrew to lonely places.” Jesus spent considerable time alone in silence to pray, rest, and focus on what priorities He should be devoting His time and energy to.
Sometimes we have to turn the noise of our life off and to make time with God. God is speaking but our life is too noisy, to busy.
Last Sunday night, Paul talked about having a zone where you connect with God, a thing you do to draw near, a place you go to pray, a natural way of communicating and being in His presence. In this modern day and age we are so connected that it can make real life connections weaker. How many times at a café do you see people out having coffee “together” but instead of the people having face to face conversation they’re on their phone, or ipads… Seriously that is not quality time. Put the phone down! The phone in your life may be a literal phone. It may be social media. It may be tv. It may be work. It may be sports. It may be doing the laundry. It may be whatever. In of itself those things are not bad or detrimental. But if we allow them to clutter up our life then they can create a noise level that makes it seem as if God is on mute.
Turn off the noise. Put the phone down and back away. Create an intentional zone when you have all ears focused on God.
7. Silence creates a hunger for Him
Jesus said in Matthew 5:6 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.”
Hunger is a good thing. Especially as God promises to satisfy it.
God invites us to seek Him : You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. Jeremiah 29:13
There is something you get in the secret place that you can get no where else. Do everything you can to establish a secret history with Jesus. ~ Banning Liebscher
Silence is God’s invitation to get hungry!
Life hacks for living in the silence:
- Ask why. It’s not wrong to question the Lord in order to gain understanding about His ways.Tell God exactly how you feel. Be real with Him.
- Focus on who God is—his unchanging nature. Regardless of circumstances and how you feel, hang on to God’s unchanging character. Remind yourself what you know to be eternally true about God: He is good, he loves me, he is with me, he knows what I’m going through, he cares, and he has a good plan for my life. V. Raymond Edman said, “Never doubt in the dark what God told you in the light.”
- Wait for His timing. God has infinite knowledge and wisdom. He knows exactly what to do and when to do it.
- Look back and see the record of God at work in your life
- Remind yourself of the promises of God
- When you don’t know what else to do and don’t seem to be getting the breakthrough you need, ask the Holy Spirit to help you pray.
- Talk to someone, ask them to pray for you.
- Trust Him. The Lord may seem silent, but that doesn’t mean He isn’t involved. He’s personally interested in the details and is actively working out every situation according to His good purposes.
- Read the Bible. If God’s voice is unclear, reading His Word is a good place to tune in. That’s where His thoughts, heart, and ways are revealed. It’s simply His voice in written form.
- Keep connecting. Keep coming to church/housegroup.
- Keep praying. Don’t stop communicating with the Lord. Keep asking, seeking, and knocking (Matt. 7:7-11)
- Don’t give up.
What God wants you to know tonight is that He is speaking to you, always, all the time. Sometimes He will be using words. Sometimes it will feel like silence. He is always loving you, always for you, always guiding you. Learn to hear Him speaking, even in the silence.