“I cry to you, O God, but you don’t answer.
I stand before you, but you don’t even look."
I can't imagine what was happening in Job's mind, body, heart, and soul when he made this statement. This was a guy that was so in love with God. He was the example of what it meant to be a good follower of the Lord at that time...someone after God's own heart. But Job was put through a test, and through his experience, we can learn what we should do in those times when God seems silent.
Job had a great family, was in good health, and lived a blessed life. Everything was going great for Job until,
Then the Lord asked Satan, “Have you noticed my servant Job? He is the finest man in all the earth. He is blameless—a man of complete integrity. He fears God and stays away from evil.”
Satan replied to the Lord, “Yes, but Job has good reason to fear God. You have always put a wall of protection around him and his home and his property. You have made him prosper in everything he does. Look how rich he is! But reach out and take away everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face!”
“All right, you may test him,” the Lord said to Satan. “Do whatever you want with everything he possesses, but don’t harm him physically.” So Satan left the Lord’s presence.
And then things got weird.
Job lost everything. His work, his home, and his family. All the things that we think make for a good life were gone. For a time, Job held on to his faith. He grasped tightly that belief that God is good and he must have a reason for all of this.
But Satan kept pushing and pushing until Job hit his breaking point. Job came to a point where he wished he had never been born and even though his friends tried to remind him of his strong faith in the Lord, Job wasn't having it. He was too far gone. God seemed too far away. There seemed to be no way to reconcile what had happened in his life with what he had previously believed about God.
Why does God let bad things happen? Why does God seem so quiet when we need him the most? If God is so good, why does my life suck so badly?
I don't pretend to have the definitive answer to these questions. But I do know what anguish and abandonment feel like. He have experienced those times when we call out to God and it seems like the room is empty. I've prayed to what felt like a brick wall.
So what do you do when God seems silent?
First, I think it is important to recognize that you are not alone.
There are multiple times in the Bible that God's chosen people have felt this same thing. And, I'm sure if you talked to people in your social circles, you would find that most people have been through times when it seemed God was not there.
Why is this important? Well, to me it means there is a reason for the silence, and there is a hope that the silence will end. God must have a purpose.
Second, recognize God's power.
I can say with a fair amount of certainty, that those times in which God is silent are also the times when I am the most focused on my self. They are the times when I put myself at the center of the universe and everything revolves around me. They are the times when my life, my struggles, and my wants are the most important thing to me.
It is in those times when it is most important to stop, recognize where my focus is, and make a choice. Do I continue down that potentially destructive path, or do I take my eyes off myself and look outward? Often, if I can start to see God's blessings around me, then I can begin to move away from the silence.
So while I recognize that God loves me and and cares deeply about me, I also recognize the he is orchestrating the movement of the universe, and probably not orchestrating it around me. And that's OK. I don't really want the responsibility or the pressure of being the center of the universe.
Third, use the silence as a reason to seek God deeper. Pray harder. Get deeper in the Word. Serve more. Move out in ever-widening circles.
The world is loud. TV, radio, and the internet, are constantly throwing distraction at us. Our jobs and our bank accounts require our attention. Our struggles with addiction and sin pull us back into the valley of the shadow of death. The world tries to pull our attention away from God every chance it gets.
Perhaps God does not want to compete with the noise in your life. Our maybe he's been whispering to you all along, but you just haven't cleared the noise to hear his words.
This is our chance to love God with all our mind, body, heart, and soul. This is our chance to go deeper in our relationship with our creator. Take some time to inventory the noise in your life and see what you can cut out for good (or for now) so that you can reconnect with God.
Job had it rough, perhaps more so than any of us, and in the end he recognized God's power and goodness. The experience brought Job closer to God than he had ever been before. I moved from believing that God is who he says he is, to knowing it.
Maybe, just maybe, when God seems silent, it's because he loves us and wants a closer relationship with us. Be still, and know that he is God.