WHEN GOD IS SILENT…
You pray again.
…Still no answer.
You keep praying.
Frustrating? Absolutely! Dead end? Not necessarily.
There’s a story in the book of Matthew where a woman came to Jesus because she had a demon-possessed daughter. So she asked Jesus to have mercy on her. And guess what happened? “Jesus did not answer a word” (Matthew 15:23). The Message translation of that same verse says, “Jesus ignored her.” Man, talk about awkward! Or perhaps humiliating, or embarrassing, or frustrating, or irritating, or even confusing. Yeah, totally!
Here this gal was probably at her wit’s end, probably worn slick from trying to care for her daughter, yet going to the One who no doubt she heard could heal. She cried out to Jesus, and He didn’t answer. Dead silence. Crickets. Ouch!
What in the world does a non-response from God mean anyway? Other than the fact that it means we’re more frustrated or confused than when we initially started praying, it actually could mean several things.
- The timing just isn’t right—Sometimes the non-response from God means the timing is off. Either you’re not ready, the person, place, or situation isn’t ready, or God has something else in mind. We have to remember He’s sovereign. He knows what’s best. And His timing is indeed perfect.
- Change needs to occur—Sometimes when it feels like God isn’t answering our prayers, it’s because we need to change. Maybe we have some pride that needs dealt with. Perhaps we’re holding onto something from our past that we need to let go of. It could be that we’ve got some sin issues that we need to come clean with. If there are greater issues at stake, God may use silence to guide us into necessary change.
- Passion, persistence, and perseverance need to be learned—Sometimes God’s silence is a way to develop our spiritual growth and character. Our passion for whatever we’re praying for grows. We come to grips with how important our request really is. Our persistence increases. We learn to lean on God and go to Him more frequently. And our perseverance develops as we wait on Him.
Since I’m not God, I’m not going to pretend to have all the answers about His silence. But whatever God’s silence means, we must understand that His non-response exercises our faith muscle. And for this we ought to be grateful. It’s hard to be grateful when God has us wait, but remember without exercise, muscles atrophy.
Here’s the thing we gotta grasp…God is actually right there working in our midst, growing our faith, exercising our spiritual muscles when we hear nothing but silence. We might not be able to see His hand at work, but I assure you, it’s there.
In Mark 10:52, Jesus said to a blind guy, “Your faith has made you whole. Go in peace.” At that moment, Blind Bartimaeus could see again. And from that time forward, he followed Jesus.
Let this be a lesson to us all. Our faith can make us whole. Notice it did not say “our faith can get us everything we ever wanted.” No, our faith can make us whole–make us well, heal us, save us, preserve us, etc. And after a period of silence, when we actually do see God’s hand at work, let us, like Blind Bartimaeus, follow Jesus from that time forward.