What do you do when God is silent?

What do you do when God is silent_

(Seemingly) Silent Saturday.

The day between the crucifixion and the resurrection. The day the disciples were in the middle of shock, bewilderment, discouragement and (I imagine) asking all kinds of questions.

Had we been wrong about Jesus after all? Maybe He wasn’t the Messiah.

What about all the miracles?

What about all the things He taught us?

We’ve all been there. We’ve experienced heart wrenching disappointments and wondered if God was aware or listening. And if so, why wasn’t He saying anything?! There are nights I’ve laid in bed so distraught and undone that the only prayer I could whisper was, “Please, God. Help.” The only response was the sound of my own heartbeat echoing in my ears.

What do we do then when God is silent? When we’ve prayed and there seems to be nothing but crickets on the other end of the line.

As I’ve meditated on Psalm 22, I feel like we can find some guidance there. Upon reading the psalm, you will quickly see that David was writing from a place of deep pain and walking through a difficult trial.¬† This psalm is full of prophetic language. In fact there are 33 prophesies found in it that would be fulfilled when Jesus was on the cross.

In Psalm 22 we find Jesus’ last words in the very first verse (1) and last verse (31). (I will be quoting from the Passion Translation throughout this post.)

“God, my God! Why would you abandon me now?”

“It is finished.” Or as Mark 27:50 describes it, “Jesus passionately cried out” these words with His last breath.

It sounds like Jesus is asking, “Where are you God?” Sounds like a familiar prayer. One I may or may not have prayed myself 967 times. Give or take a few.

But it’s Psalm 22:2 that words it so well:

Why do you remain distant, refusing to answer my tearful cries in the day and my desperate cries for your help in the night? I can’t stop sobbing. Where are you, my God?

There are times God feels silent. When that happens what do we do? Well, here’s some of my thoughts.

  1. Bring God a song.

Right after asking God where He is David continues in verse 3 by saying:

Yet I know that you are most holy; it’s indisputable. You are God-Enthroned, surrounded with songs, living among the shouts of praise of your princely people.¬†(or common queens as the case may be ūüėČ )

David goes back to the basics. Even if God is silent, He is still holy and because He is holy it demands a worshipful response on my part. Not exactly my first response, to be honest. When I’m discouraged the last thing I want to do is worship and praise. Why is praise important when God feels silent? Simply put, I think it just keeps things in perspective for us.

2.  Remember His faithfulness.

In Psalm 22:9 & 10 David recounts how God has cared for him since the moment he was born! This reminder brings him to this conclusion at the end of verse 10:

I’ve trusted in you and you’ve always been my God.

You can trust the character of God….even when He’s silent. Everything you know about Him is still true. Go back and remember how He’s come through for you before. Maybe crack open an old journal (that’s what I like to do) and read stories of God answering your prayers and getting you through hard times. If He’s done it before, you can trust Him to do it again.

3. Know He is there.

In 2006, I experienced the worst pain I have ever gone through. In that season, I remember one night in particular where my best friend sat down on the couch next to me and didn’t say a word. She didn’t attempt to give me words of comfort or explain why this horrible loss had happened. All she did was sit silently next to me.

It was a beautiful act of love and all the comfort I needed because I knew she was there.

God may be silent, but I promise you He is there.

Psalm 22: 24 reads,

For He has not despised my cries of deep despair. He’s my first responder to my sufferings, and He didn’t look the other way when I was in pain. He was there all the time, listening to the song of the afflicted.¬†

I don’t think these are the only things we can do when God feels silent. One of the things I do often is reach out to a trusted friend who I know will immediately start praying on my behalf. She’s sent me countless verses to encourage me or songs to worship to on YouTube.

Sometimes (dare I say, oftentimes) we need people on this journey.¬†Safe people you can go to and share your questions and hurts and know they won’t judge you or use those things as weapons against you. Those kinds of people are diamond friends. You’ll only have a few, but they are extremely precious.

If God feels silent in your life right now know that silent Saturday isn’t the end of this story. Sunday is coming!

 

 

 

 

 

Unanswered Questions

Unanswered Questions

I’ve got questions.

Some questions are less serious in nature like:

“Why do I love beards so much?”

“Do you think Starbucks will ever deliver?”

“Is there a chocolate only diet?”

Don’t get me wrong, those are important questions. Beards, coffee and chocolate are ranked pretty high on my list. In the scheme of things though, if they went unanswered my life would continue on much like it does.¬†No matter the reason, I’ll always love beards. Even if Starbucks doesn’t take my suggestion and start delivering, I’ll still stop in and buy my White Mocha in person. And chocolate, well, chocolate seems to be around for the long haul.

Some questions are a bit more serious. Like my questions about God, spirituality, faith, church, death and (ya even) singleness. I can’t just sweep these questions under the rug and ignore them. They need to be expressed, discussed and studied…in a safe environment.

Not everyone understands the questions you’re milling over.

There will be people, upon hearing your questions, who will immediately get defensive. They’ll rattle off answers left and right making you feel like an idiot for even verbalizing such a foolish question. Have you ever met someone like that? If you have, and I’m sure you have, did you ever want to ask questions around them ever again? Probably not.

Sitting around a table last night with some friends, we began discussing things we’ve been wrestling with in regards to our faith. Each person shared what was on their heart and no one judged them for it. And I realized, love listens.

Listening to a podcast this week, the theologian was discussing how we can go through phases in our life where it seems like we have more questions than we’ve got answers. Either we’ve read a book, taken a class, gone on a trip or experienced some kind of life event but something has caused us to re-evaluate our beliefs. Whatever the case, most of us will go through it to one extent or the other.

“It’s¬†normal,” he said.

As I’ve been wrestling and questioning and searching I’ve often felt very alone. I often kept my questions to myself and wondered what was wrong with me. Questions¬†were bad, right? It was a sign of backsliding or a mark of the beast or something. I’m not sure anyone outright told me my questions were bad, but it was usually implied by the contortions of their face or the way their head tilted to the one side with raised eyebrows that indicated that maybe I’d better just keep those things to myself.

Sometimes I was the voice saying, “Just be quiet. Keep that to yourself.”

Hearing that my searching and questions were normal brought me immediate peace. My shoulders immediately relaxed and it was as if the ground stabilized again.

Driving home after meeting with my friends I began to thank God for the opportunity to share transparently with people and to not feel ashamed or any less of a Christian. As I prayed, I recalled Jeremiah 29:13,

If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me.

There is a bigger purpose to my questioning and seeking. It’s not to be rebellious or to try and find a loophole in order to do things my way. All of it is to know God more– to truly know His heart. I can no longer live off truths I’ve been told second hand, but need to explore. We need to seek. Children are told stories of adventure, but adults live them. (Or in a biblical analogy, babies drink milk, but adults eat meat.)

God is not troubled by my questions. He is not insecure or defensive or even worried. Not in the least. In fact God is pleased I want to know more because it shows I’m interested in participating and not satisfied in spectating.¬†In my looking, I may have unanswered questions, but I know I will find Him because that is where the compass of my heart is set.

“In the silence You won’t let go
In the questions Your truth will hold
Your great love will lead me through
You are the peace in my troubled sea”

My Lighthouse (Rend Collective)

Do you have unanswered questions? If so,¬†lease leave me a comment and let me know how your search is going. I’d love to encourage you or pray for you on your journey!

Something beautiful.

something beautiful

Why?

Why did he have to die? He was too young. Had so many dreams. He loved you, Jesus.

Why?

Why wasn’t my childhood safe? Why did I have to see those things? Experience¬†those things?

Why?

Why are things so hard? Why does it feel like one bad thing after another?

Why?

You’ve undoubtedly asked the “Why” question many times yourself. You’ve experienced hardships. If you haven’t I’m assuming you’ve had some kind of major brain injury that has stunted your memory– in which case, you have experienced a hardship. You get my point. No one is exempt from life or the trials or heartbreak that come in shifts, or seasons or waves.

I’ve seen people I love, reeling in pain because of loss. I’ve seen many tears fall because of physical pain in their bodies. I’ve seen fists raised in frustration because of a financial burden that never seems like its going to go away.

I’m 30 now, and it hasn’t gotten easier to watch. I wouldn’t say I’ve come away with answers to the “why” question, either. Sorry to say. I wish I did. I’d package that answer up, and put it in a book and sell it to the masses. Reasonably priced and all. And I’d live comfortably off its sales.

A lack of answer does not mean a lack of hope, though.

I sat listening to a spoken word at a youth conference a few months ago. I was most struck by one line in particular– “A dry land can still rejoice and blossom like a rose*.” I’ve meditated on that thought many times since then. Sometimes making it a prayer to Jesus, asking Him to take the ruins and mess of my life and bring wholeness there. Other days its a declaration to myself that I can indeed STILL rejoice and that I do STILL blossom and grow. And sometimes its a reminder from my Savior that yes He does the miraculous. That He can cause a flower to bloom in a desert. That He can take me and make something beautiful.

With questions still looming, tears still streaming and a heart still broken I will confidently say with outstretched hands, “Jesus, please make something beautiful.”

And He will.

 

(* Spoken word written by Josiah Ball)