“God’s been quiet this season”
On your journey with God, you’ve likely heard remarks like this and even more likely, experienced it firsthand; silence from God. It’s an enduring and challenging aspect of our faith to grapple and make peace with. God’s silence causes us to question His intentions when we don’t hear His voice. We battle feelings of abandonment or loneliness when seemingly left in a storm. The struggle to understand God’s silence is an age-old experience with no clear answer.
These are life-long questions humanity will continually wrestle with as long as we’re alive. As I’ve grown in my relationship with God, it’s made me keenly aware of the shift when these tough seasons arrive. However, through each experience, I’ve picked up critical learnings that helped transform my perspective on God’s silence. Here are a few important reminders whenever God is “quiet.”
1. Remember communication with God is beyond our comprehension
Whenever God feels quiet I immediately turn to rationale. “Why” is God silent?” “When will He speak again?” “Am I heading in the right direction?” It always feels as if there was a legitimate “cause.” It also feels like a problem to fix.
The loss of God’s clarity through His silence can be unnerving, isolating and even lonely. As nature calls for, our immediate instinct is often to identify the cause and desperately fight to end it. At this first sign of God’s silence, it’s critical to remember He is not bound by human reason. His methods of communication reach far beyond the scope of our individual experiences.
I’m reminded of one of the biblical greats, King David himself. David was known for vibrant, colorful and enriched communication with God; often expressed through mellifluous song and dance. However, David also experienced bouts of frustrating, familiar silence. Leaf through Psalms and you’ll find them peppered with cries of his anxious heart. He charges questions to God we’ve all asked like: “O God, do not remain quiet; Do not be silent and, O God, do not be still” Psalm 83:1.
David would often go from shouting praises to the heavens to the next psalm lamenting over His alleged abandonment. It’s our nature to feel thrust about when we lose our security. However, David’s story is a clear testament to the enduring presence of God in his life. God’s silence is uncomfortable, but His communication with us reaches far beyond our understanding. Lean on your trust that His silence is purposed.
2. Remember the silence produces fruit in us
The purpose of God’s silence can be challenging to understand. When we feel our security has been compromised and we question our future our last instinct is to declare this circumstance is designed by God. The uncertainty and anxiety of navigating a quiet season with God can threaten to reign over us.
Just like in every storm He encourages us to recall the history of what He’s done; now is no different. Take a spiritual inventory of what past periods of God’s silence lead you to or unearthed in you. As stated in James 1:3 “because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.” Did your discernment heighten? Did you dive deeper into the word? Did your prayer life become more raw and honest?
In the context of our relationship, God’s silence is more like unspoken communication. It’s still poignant, yet intangible. It’s the gentle hand of the Father ushering us into newfound maturity.
It’s like watching a parent slowly loosen a toddler’s hands from their grip to allow them to take their wobbly, unsure first steps. God gives us an opportunity to walk without the comfort and trimmings of reliable and familiar communication. Remember in a period of silence, God is producing fruit in you, something for your good.
3. Remember God’s silence isn’t truly ‘silence’
In my communications course in University, one of the most remarkably simple yet fascinating concepts I learned was the theory of ceaseless communication. The fact that there is never a true lack of communication. For example, if someone refrains from speaking it is non-verbal. Removing one form of communication simply causes another to take its place, our survival depends on it.
The same lens can be applied in our communication with God. To me, characterizing God as “quiet” can sometimes conjure a frustrating image especially if I’m resisting feelings of abandonment in a storm. My weary heart imagines a figure who cruelly stands by while suffering takes place withholding help. It’s nothing like the character of God I know. To resist this temptation, I’ve used this helpful metaphor from a pastor of mine:
“When God is quiet in your life, imagine you’re a student taking an exam. You take your test, walk to your seat and silently work through each challenge on the sheet. Where is the teacher? At the front of the class; silent, watchful, hopeful for each student’s success. The teacher does not engage however occasionally when someone waves their hand they’ll offer a gentle soft nudge in the right direction. No answers are given away, but just enough guidance to stir them ahead. They want nothing but your best. That’s our God.”
It calls into question, is God ever truly quiet? By this definition, He’s not. In the context of our relationship, God’s silence is more like unspoken communication. It’s still poignant, yet intangible. It’s the gentle hand of the Father ushering us into newfound maturity. Remember God’s silence is not true “silence” in the sense that its ignorant non-communication.
4. Remember God knows how to talk to you and heighten new senses in this season
Once this realization settles in, I’m left wondering still what communication with God looks like in a season like this. When we understand that God is still communicating with us it allows us to resist striving to find Him in familiar places. Once we get comfortable with the uncomfortable and trust that God will meet us wherever and whenever He so chooses we open ourselves to new avenues. Heighten new senses to find Him in this season. Stay in the word, remain prayerful—He’s still listening.
This uncharted territory creates an opening for God to speak to us in new ways. Rest in the reminder that God knows exactly how to reach you. Release yourself from any narrow definition of what communication with God looks like and the silence will feel a lot less daunting.