Hearing the Voice of God – Part Twenty-Eight

There are times it seems the Lord is nowhere to be found. He is silent. Our prayers feel like they are hitting the ceiling and bouncing back. We feel far from God — like we have entirely lost our way. God is silent. But, we need to learn to hear God when He is silent. Every Christian goes through these silent seasons – called “the dark night of the soul” – when God seems absent and the Lord is silent and apparently no where to be found

You are not alone. Jesus understands how you feel. He cried out in anguish on the cross, “Father, why have you forsaken Me?” Even Jesus knew His Father’s silence.

Sometimes we fail to hear from God because we are not paying attention, but what about those times when we really are listening but somehow we can no longer sense Him speaking? At times God’s reasons for being silent are to get our attention so we can receive clear spiritual direction that will go to the core of our being. He silence may occur when He is poised to do His deepest work in our lives.

We should not fear God’s silence because it really is a reminder that we need Him so desperately. When He is silent and life seems dark, it often motivates us to place our full trust in God. We pay more attention when we are lost in the woods! God may be building our character so we can be more effective in His Kingdom. In the darkness of God’s silence, we are reminded of what we are missing.

Bob Mumford once said, “I do not trust anyone unless he walks with a limp.” I agree with him. He was referring to Jacob, who during a time of great trial in his life, wrestled with God, demanding His blessing. He was touched in his thigh and did in fact receive the Lord’s blessing. But from that day on, he walked with a limp. When God lovingly deals with us in the difficult times, we walk with a spiritual limp the rest of our lives. This is the stuff of which true spiritual men and women of God are made.

Peter was a disciple who ”walked with a limp.” Zealous and brash, he denied Jesus, but later experienced God’s complete acceptance, forgiveness, and restoration and became a true father in the faith.

The Bible is filled with examples of those who started with an exciting experience of hearing from the Lord, refused to quit when God was silent, and consequently experienced great fruitfulness because they kept their confidence and trust in the Lord.

The story of Joseph in the Old Testament is one of the best. After having a dream that his brothers would bow down to him, he encountered trial after trial. Joseph was sold into slavery by his brothers, lied about by his employers wife, imprisoned while innocent, forgotten in prison, only to become second in command of all of Egypt overnight! Although it must have felt to him that God had left him in prison to die, he entered the stage of great fruitfulness as he refused to give up during the difficult seasons of his life.

God used this stage of testing in Joseph’s life to examine his character. God gave him an attitude check, and he passed the test. He could then be a blessing to his brothers who had severely mistreated him in the past. Many quit during the test period, when the Lord seems to stop speaking, and never experience the stage of fruitfulness the Lord has planned for them.

The Lord is much more concerned about what He is doing in you than about your reaching your goals. He wants you to depend on Him and on His power in the here and now. Oswald Chambers once said, “If I can stay calm, faithful, and unconfused while in the middle of the turmoil of life, the goal of the purpose of God is being accomplished in me. God is not working toward a particular finish — His purpose is the process itself.” God’s silence will reveal our true attitudes toward God by showing us what’s really in our hearts and then giving us the opportunity to fully trust in His power as we persevere.

While it is true that God sometimes is silent due to no fault of our own because He is simply developing within us a depth of character and a deeper trust in Him, at other times He is silent due to disobedience in our lives. King David once said, “If I had not confessed the sin in my heart, my Lord would not have listened” (Psalm 66:18 NLT). Sin alienates us from God, and creates a barrier to hearing from Him. In times like these, God’s silence may be an act of judgment. 

In the days of Samuel the prophet, the priests were ungodly men, and the Bible says, “the word of the Lord was rare” (1 Samuel 3:1). God refused to speak because these rebellious priests misrepresented God to the people. God’s silence was a stamp of disapproval on the behaviour of the priests. Because they didn’t hear God’s voice for a period of time, the people because hungry to hear it again. God’s silence paved the way for Samuel to be heard as God’s spokesperson.

If we cannot hear God’s voice because God is chastising us with His silence, we must examine ourselves to see what is hindering us from hearing.

How do we discover what it is that God wants to show us? 

There its a story in the Old Testament that gives us some insight. A man was cutting down a tree by the river when his iron ax head fell into the water. An ax head was a very expensive tool, and the man desperately wanted to retrieve it because it was borrowed. He went to Elisha, a man of God, for help. Elisha asked where he had last seen it fall, threw a stick on the water, and it miraculously floated to the surface (2 Kings 6:1-6). At the same place that it was lost, the ax head reappeared.

We can learn an important lesson from this. Whenever we have problems with finding direction from God in our lives, it is often helpful to go back to where we were certain we last heard the voice of the Lord clearly. If we do not go back, we may continue to flounder.

If we find ourselves in a spiritual wasteland and wandering aimlessly, it is not the end of the world. The Bible says that the Lord is able to “restore … the years that the wandering locust has eaten (Joel 2:25). God offers hope if we are experiencing His silence because of sin in our lives. If we have lost our spiritual way, the Bible says we must, “Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do that things you did at first…” (Revelation 2:5). Repentance takes us back tp the place where we last heard from God. Restoration comes as the Lord gives us a new start.

As mentioned before, God’s silence is not always linked to sin in our lives. Sometimes, He is just teaching us to wait on Him and trust in His faithfulness. When God is silent, we must choose to trust His silences, quite ourselves and wait on Him. Listen to Isaiah’s words about God waiting for us to be silent: “In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.The Lord waits to be gracious to you … blessed are all those who wait for Him” (Isaiah 30:15, 18).

Remember, roots grow deep into the earth during times of drought to find water and to give the tree a better foundation. Times of God’s silence prepare us for future storms.

In addition to God’s silence of waiting, He also speaks to us in the silence of His love. Zephaniah, the prophet, describes the silence of His love. “He will be quiet in His love” (Zephaniah 3:17 NAS). Sometimes the deepest sorrows and the highest joys are best shared in silence.

God is silent because words will distract from the love and care God is conveying to us in His quietness.

If you are gong through time in your life where God seems distant, pray for wisdom to interpret the silences. Whether He is silent to test you, judge you, or quiet you in His love, He always intends that you put your trust in Him so He can do a deep work in you. You can trust Him.

When God is silent it doesn’t mean that He is absent. King David, on more than one occasion, felt abandoned by God. Yet despite the silence, David knew he was never out of God’s sight. “Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me,

and your right hand shall hold me” (Psalm 139:7, 9-10).

God promises to never leave us or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5). Hs silence should be our cue to hunger and thirst after Him even more. His silence is a reminder of what we are missing. Painful dry spells drive us closer to Him. Is has been well said, “Never forget in the dark what you have learned in the light.”