Last month I reflected on hearing God but that presupposes God is speaking to you. Have you ever gone through a period where God is silent? When you cry out and there’s nothing but an empty void in reply? Is that tough? You bet it is.
I remember a time when I heard from God often and it was so comforting, but of late I’ve gone through a period where he’s been silent more often than not. When times are good I can rest in my knowledge and relationship with him, like a child out of view from their parent but who knows they are close. But in times of trouble you want more, you need more (or in my case you DEMAND more) and that becomes a testimony to faith.
I’ve been doing some reading and reflecting in the Book of Job lately (no, things aren’t that bad!) and that has gotten me thinking about how God speaks.
This is not about God whispering in storms, that was last month, this is when he’s silent, when he’s leaving it to you to rest in his sufficiency (Proverbs 3:5-6). So how then do we cope with the times God is quiet?
In Job, his friend Elihu says this: For God does speak—now one way, now another— though no one perceives it. (Job 33:14). It’s easy to forget that Job’s friends actually had some good things to say (and dumb ones too!) and this is one of the good ones. We are reminded that God does speak. The way may change but he does speak.
Psalm 50:1 adds to this: The Mighty One, God, the Lord, speaks and summons the earth from the rising of the sun to where it sets. So he also speaks with a degree of constancy as well.
So far so good. He does speak. I suspect we’d all affirm that. But let’s also affirm there are times when we need to wait and that’s when it gets tough.
But there’s more.
Not only does he speak but the Lord also WILL speak, in his time (and that’s the catch) and in his way. We see in Job that eventually God did answer. Job 38- the Lord answered Job out of the storm. It’s easy to read this as God being angry and rebuking Job but the text is silent on his tone. Yes, he answered out of a storm but the storm was the chaos swirling around Job. God could have replied with a patient and loving voice as he explained how he is in control of all things and despite the chaos he was in charge and in fact had a future blessing in store. We know the end of the story- God did speak, and he blessed Job abundantly for his faithfulness.
Yes, many of our stories are still being written. Still, this reminder helps me answer the question when God is silent with me. There is blessing to come and a future resurrection where there will be no more barriers between us and him.
This has not been an abstract, pastoral exercise of late for me. Recently I’ve been grappling with a pretty major question with God and he’s been quiet. I must confess to being quite anxious and frustrated at times with it but at the apex, in my own storm when I felt ready to collapse under the weight of my own fear and the devil’s spiritual attacks, God spoke to me. He spoke to me through someone from my old church who felt prompted to pray for me at the moment of my collapse and then send me a note through Facebook Messenger that they were and EVERYTHING changed at that moment. God spoke. The fear was gone. The despair was gone. The anxiety was gone. God SPOKE.
Yes, he may wait to the absolute last minute, that is his prerogative as a sovereign king, but he does speak. Keep listening.