When God Shouts Through His Silence

Have you ever needed God, prayed, and sincerely sought after God, only to receive silence? We read of passages where God promises, “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:8).[1] However, often when one shouts to the heavens, nothing is heard. No marvelous miracle. No storming voice of thunder. Nothing.

Some have taken the route to believe that since they have not heard from God, then either God does not exist, or God does not communicate to humanity directly. Yet, the honest seeker for truth will acknowledge the wealth of evidence leading one to consider the necessity for God’s existence. Likewise, one must acknowledge the great amount of historical evidence for Jesus of Nazareth and the movement stemming from a literal resurrection. If one acknowledges the existence of God, then one must admit that God could communicate with humanity. If one acknowledges the revelation of the Bible, then one will concede that God has spoken to individuals in times past. For one who has entered a covenant relationship with Christ, such a one will admit that God moved in their life—in a since communicating with them.

Another Option

Another option that some have taken is to imagine that God is disinterested in their lives. However, the Bible demonstrates the great concern of God for human beings, as Peter denotes in saying that God is “not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). In addition, God is demonstrated to be the Good Shepherd of his flock in the 23rd Psalm. Hence, another option must exist. That option is that just because God is silent, it does not mean that God is not actively working. As Krish Kandiah denoted in the June 2015 edition of Christianity Today, the book of Esther in the Bible describes the movement of God in a time when God seemed silent. Pertaining to Esther, Kandiah denotes “Esther is one of two women in the Bible to have a book named after her. Her story is strange. It’s full of sexual exploitation, personal vendettas, and a real threat of anti-Semitic ethnic cleansing…No one refers to the Scriptures, and no one explicitly prays…While murder is plotted, mass rape is legislated, and lives are ruined, God is on mute. Yet this book made it into Scripture, and despite his silence, God’s sovereignty rings out loud and clear” (Kandiah 2015, 52). Indeed, as Kandiah describes, Esther does provide some insights on the silence of God.

The Silence of God May be Used to Demonstrate Faith

Esther, a Jewess, married the Persian King Xerxes (otherwise known as Ahasuerus). Haman is the antagonist in the story of Esther as he seeks to exterminate the Jews because of the faith of a man named Mordecai, “the son of Jair, son of Shimei, son of Kish, a Benjaminite, who had been carried away from Jerusalem among the captives carried away with Jeconiah king of Judah, whom Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon had carried away” (Esther 2:5-6). Haman had instructed everyone to bow down and pay homage to Haman. However, Mordecai, due to his great faith, refused for he only bowed to God and God alone. Nevertheless, Mordecai’s faith served as a catalyst which brought forth the antitheistic notions of Haman. It may have seemed as if God was silent. But, God was allowing the faith of Mordecai to speak for itself. Furthermore, God would use the faith of Mordecai as a means of bringing something far greater in the end.

This brings to mind another occasion when God was silent. When Christ was on the cross, God may not have thunderously spoken from the heavens—however, God was there. God was on the cross. This brings to mind a particular story from the Holocaust. The Nazis were executing many Jews on one particular day. The Nazis had hung a young boy from the gallows. However, the young boy was too light to enable his neck to immediately break when being dropped. So he lingered there writhing in pain for several minutes before finally dying. Someone yelled out, “Where is God? Where is God?” A wise man proclaimed while pointing to the young boy, “There he is. He is there with that young boy.” God was in the gas chambers. He was on the shooting line. He was with every person who had suffered. He was not with those doing great acts of evil. He was with those who had been oppressed, who had suffered, and who had died.

If the Bible is correct and God provides a heaven for his faithful, then the glorious promise of God is that the best is yet to come. When Jesus was on the cross, the Father was silent. But, the faith of Jesus would shine forth as Jesus was raised from the dead on the first Easter Sunday. Just because God is silent, it does not mean that God does not care. It may be that God is allowing momentary suffering to allow for something far greater in the end. As the apostle Paul reminds us “’What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him’—these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit” (1 Corinthians 2:9-10).

When God is Silent, God is Still Working

One will notice in the book of Esther that Mordecai just so happened to be in particular places at particular times. Coincidences? I think not. Mordecai was led to be in the places where Haman’s plots were devised. God was in the details. As Kandiah denotes, “While God never makes an appearance, his role in the story is hard to miss. Haman rolled dice to determine the day on which his despicable plan for genocide would take place. But his plan backfired, and he was hanged on the oversized gallows that he built for Mordecai” (Kandiah 2015, 52-53). As it is written in Proverbs, “We may throw the dice, but the Lord determines how they fall” (Proverbs 16:33, NLT).[2] This is an important truth for those who travel to Las Vegas to remember. Nevertheless, God was working in the details. When one understands the power and providence of God, one will refuse to believe in so-called “coincidences.”

Evil is Temporarily Allowed Only to Be Ultimately Judged

When one experiences the silence of God, evil may or may not be the reason for concern. Nonetheless, for those who experience evil and do not experience the immediate judgment brought forth by God, understand that God will judge in his own due time. In the story of Esther, it appeared that evil was unrestrained and left without judgment. For those experiencing the evils of the Nazi concentration camp, that sentiment must have flooded the minds of those in the camps. However, judgment would come. Haman experienced how the silence of God will lead to the shout of God. For as Haman was about to kill Mordecai, God providentially worked particular details to bring about another end. In Esther, we read that news had gotten to the king about the workings of Haman. Then, one reads the following, Then Harbona, one of the king’s eunuchs, said, ‘Haman has set up a sharpened pole that stands seventy-five feet tall in his own courtyard. He intended to use it to impale Mordecai, the man who saved the king from assassination.’ ‘Then impale Haman on it!’ the king ordered. So they impaled Haman on the pole he had set up for Mordecai, and the king’s anger subsided” (Esther 7:9-10, NLT). The silence of God will eventually lead to the shouting of God. In times of God’s silence, the faithful must remember that God is still at work and that their faith must remain steadfast.

The Example of God Shouting through Silence at Huntsville Baptist Church

The silence of God leads to the shouts of God. The story of Huntsville Baptist Church certainly demonstrates this truth. Several years back, the church engaged in a building program that left quite a substantial debt. Unfortunately, after the building project was complete, the church experienced internal strive which led to a division. This division left the church with a substantial debt without the funds to accomplish payments as quickly as formerly hoped. The church encountered such hardship that many discussed whether it was time to close the doors, not knowing how such a debt could be paid. It would seem that the church which had been established in the 1800s was set to close down completely. Hope seemed to be lost. Perhaps many asked during the time of hardship, “Where is God?” However, God was there as the church experienced a ray of hope. An annual golf tournament was established to help pay off the debt. Various fundraisers were employed. The church united through this time of hardship. A man of God, named George Steelman, especially had a passion for the work of God in his church. As George was diagnosed with cancer, preparing to enter the kingdom of God, he left as part of his will a substantial donation which, in combination with other funds raised by countless individuals, allowed the debt to be paid in full. This past Sunday, Huntsville Baptist Church celebrated this payoff with a note-burning service. Where was God? God was there. God was there as he inspired individuals to begin these new programs. God was there as he inspired individuals to give unselfishly. God was there as he inspired people to see the vision that he had laid before them. While some may have felt that God was silent, God was actually shouting through his perceived silence.

Tips When Experiencing God’s Silence:

  1. Evaluate your life to ensure that nothing is standing between you and God. While many–including Job, Paul, and Joseph–experience God’s silence when all was well with their lives, it remains an important task to evaluate one’s life during times of spiritual drought. This will ensure that such times do not originate with an unacknowledged sin.
  2. Get in the Word! Be sure to have regular devotions, inviting God to speak to you through his Spirit and through his Word. This also requires one to listen to God instead of telling God what you need. God knows your needs better than you do.
  3. Pray, pray, pray!!! Make sure you spend adequate time with God each day in prayer.
  4. Remain faithful. Keep doing what God has called you to do until you hear otherwise.
  5. Remember the promises of God. Study more about God. Study, learn, and remember the attributes of God. God does not change.

Sources Cited:

Kandiah, Krish. “Trusting the Great Director: Though unseen and unheard, God orchestrates the details of our lives—even when we are falling apart.” Christianity Today 59, 5 (June 2015): 50-54.

The featured photograph was taken by Emily Shaw on June 7th, 2015. All rights reserved.

© June 8, 2015. Brian Chilton.

[1] All Scripture, unless otherwise noted, comes from the English Standard Version (Wheaton: Crossway, 2001).

[2] Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture marked NLT comes from the New Living Translation (Carol Stream: Tyndale House Publishers, 2013).

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