Faith in the Silence


Why am I here? What do You want from me? What is wrong with me? Why can’t I find love? Why did this person take their own life? Why did this friend leave the faith? Where are You? Help me.

These are some of the many questions and prayers that I have spoken without getting a clear response from God. I can think of times where it felt like I was just talking to myself. Times where I evaluated my heart, worshiped, repented of sin, and sat in the silence only to find that to be His response. As someone who is wired for conversation, (and who is probably a better conversationalist than writer), this is not always my preference. I want to be able to speak and hear, hear and speak. And since God is real and true, then surely He would ensure that my appeals to Him as the One true God are met with revelation, right? I mean, if He’s real, then He’ll answer. Right?

Let me cut to the chase. God does speak. Sometimes audibly (though this seems to be pretty rare), sometimes through others prophetically, and sometimes by the inner voice of the Spirit. Usually we are pretty eager to hear what God has to say. But God also works beyond words. And sometimes God chooses to be quiet. Why? There is the particular scenario of living in unrepentant sin, as we see in the life of King Saul. However, there are many times where that is not the case, and that is what confuses us.

I can’t give you a formulaic explanation as to why you may or may not be hearing God, because He is not a formulaic God, though He is a God of order and intention. The way He works in your life may not be the way He works in mine. I could point you to characters such as Job, the Psalmists, and even Jesus for examples of God being quiet, and yet the reasoning for why would not always be the same. But as I have continually walked with God through the years, I have found that there is something precious that has come out of weeks and even months of silence. Faith.

“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. Without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.” Hebrews 11:1,6.

God is good. Therefore, everything He does is good. Therefore, when God chooses not to speak in the way that we would like to hear, He is doing so for a reason that is ultimately to our benefit. God never stops the work which He began in us and will be faithful to complete until the day of Christ Jesus, (Philippians 1:6). Therefore we can let our faith be refined as we enter into the silence and trust His goodness in the midst of it.

There was a time where I had questions without answers, and I was struggling through doubt while feeling like I was just white-knuckling it through the storm. As I prayed and continually sought the Lord, He did not break through in a loud or miraculous way, but instead let me endure. I was never out of His hand, but He let me wrestle temptation (as Jesus Himself did in the wilderness after the Spirit came upon Him like a dove) and ultimately come out on the other side with a deeper faith that was content to know Him without having every answer or explanation.

What is your faith made of? The silence will show. Will we love Christ only when He does a miracle? Will we love Him only when we “feel” or “see” Him? Will we love Him only when everything is comprehensible, understandable, and as we would like it to be? Or will we choose to love and trust that what He said before still stands in the day between crucifixion and resurrection?

There is a blessing that comes with having faith without sight, (John 20:29, 1 Peter 1:3-9). There are times where God appoints us to have this kind of faith. An example is how Jesus appeared to the women at the tomb, but not immediately to His disciples. They went and told the disciples, most of which did not believe them. Later, Jesus reprimanded the disciples for their lack of faith. He had wanted them to trust the word that He had spoken to them prior. Faith had been their entire education in preparation for the work God was going to usher them into. So if other people are receiving words or having encounters, don’t necessarily assume that you are doing something wrong. It may be that God is refining your faith so that what remains is unshakeable.

I could go on, but with all of this being said, if you are wondering how you should respond to the quiet of God, here is some advice that I can offer based on my own experience, from one disciple to another.

Hold onto faith. Make the commitment to believe. Remember that faith is the assurance of things hoped for, and the certainty of things NOT SEEN. If you are to grow through this, you must be willing to trust that there is more than what you perceive.

Be quiet. Learn to slow down and be still. Be loved. His silence is not empty. There are workings of the Spirit beyond words that are always happening, and it is good to not always feel like we need to be accomplishing something. There is still life to be found, not only when He speaks, but also in His wordless embrace. Don’t just wait out this time. You may come to find it precious.

Read the Bible. What you haven’t read, what you have read, all of it. God has already revealed so much through scripture, and it baffles me how anyone could claim that they want to know God and not be searching the Bible to learn. If you look at the story of the Rich Man and Lazarus in Luke 16, you will see how seriously God takes us having faith in scripture. In addition, read and listen to things that stir faith within you, (missionary testimonies, apologetics, teachings, etc).

Remember where He has met you. Spiritual amnesia is a very dangerous thing. I have had to fight to recall moments where the Lord met me in a very tangible and obvious way. When I remember, I wonder how I could have forgotten. There is spiritual warfare over memory and testimony, and like the Israelites set up altars to memorialize the way the Lord had led them, so should we have memorials to the faithfulness of the Lord when we are tempted to believe otherwise.

Give thanks. Learn to look around at the little things that the Lord has already blessed you with, and watch as those things become more dear to you than they were when you were waiting for more. Give thanks for the truth that you already know, and let its roots grow even deeper.

Surround yourself with believers who are full of the Spirit. Be open and honest, receive from them. They are His tangible hands and feet, as are you.

Know that just because you may not be hearing anything, that does not mean you aren’t being led, and that you aren’t being used. We are ever temples of the Holy Spirit, and it is amazing how often He uses us simply by inspiring us to go a certain way or say a certain thing.

Don’t stop praying. Don’t stop being honest with Him. Cry it out.

Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, and love your neighbor as yourself.

My final parting thoughts to you are these: No one’s existence is contingent on anyone hearing their voice. The Spirit of the Lord was hovering over the waters before He ever spoke creation into existence. If God had never spoken “Let there be light,” He would still be I Am. If God never spoke to you again, His gift of salvation by the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus would still stand as the final word in your life, if you have repented and believed. That alone is enough for a full life, being made new in Christ. But even more than this, we get to know Him. In joy, in sorrow, in His voice and in His silence. He is in it all, and all of it is meaningful.

So lean into Him, dear one. He is here.

“Behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” -Matthew 28:20