The Silence of God
Most people who go through a time of spiritual aridity or experience the silence of God will first wonder what they have done wrong that God has turned His back on them. But I appreciate the idea from Thomas Green (from Philip Yancey’s Prayer) that we label friends as “immature” who pull away when hurt or offended, refusing to tell us outright what we have done wrong. So why would we ascribe that behavior to God? If He is “silent,” we should ask Him to make it clear to us what we have done wrong, but if we receive no clear answer, we should not “entertain vague doubts.”
So what should you do then? Keep praying. C.S. Lewis says it is the prayers offered in the spiritual troughs that are most precious to God. Then we should look for the ways the season of silence is helping us grow spiritually. Yancey says, “A vintner explained to me that he refuses to irrigate his vines because the stress caused by occasional drought produces the best, most tasty grapes. Seasons of dryness make the roots run deep, strengthening the vine for whatever the future holds.”
We humans, and probably we Americans especially, do not like down times or waiting or sheer perseverance and forbearance. We are all about the event, entertainment, immediate gratification, instant whatever. With my new Alexa, I don’t even have to log onto my computer for Spotify or press my app buttons or even go get my phone for Siri. I can just say, “Alexa, play Abba” or “Alexa, what’s the weather?” or “Alexa, set a timer for 10 min.” Alexa answers me immediately. Why won’t God?
Yancey notes that people approached Jesus with questions 183 times in the gospels. He replied with a direct answer 3 times. So why should we expect Him to interact with us any differently now? Instead, He may ask us a question back, or redirect us to a more important thing. Or He may ask us just to wait. Something is fermenting and you can’t speed it up.
So embrace the silence and the desert, much as you may resist it. The desert, also, is beautiful in its own way.