Silence is particularly painful when that silence is the silence of God. Oh, how we would like to be like Moses where God speaks to us all the time through burning bushes. How we would like to be like Elijah who throughout his life carried on a running conversation with God.
We have got neighbors who come up to us and say, “The Lord was telling me today …blah ..blah …blah …” And we cry out, “Then why, God, are you so mute when it comes to me?” The silence is agonizing. Particularly when we are in agony. When our lives are afflicted. When we are in turmoil and we turn to the Lord for an answer, and all we are met with is silence.
Hear my prayer, O Lord; let my cry for help come to you. Do not hide your face from me when I am in distress. Turn your ear to me; when I call, answer me quickly. For my days vanish like smoke; my bones burn like glowing embers. My heart is blighted and withered like grass; I forget to eat my food, because of my loud groaning I am reduced to skin and bones. I am like a desert owl, like an owl among the ruins. I lie awake; I have become like a bird alone on a roof.
Because God is silent the psalmist is wondering, ‘God, are you even listening to all of these prayers I am pouring out to you from the bottom of my soul?’ In verse 2, the psalmist wonders if God is playing hide-and-seek with him. Those are games the psalmist does not want to play. He has had enough of that. He wants answers and he wants them now. I can identify with him at this point?
A reason that you and I sometimes miss God’s voice when he is talking to us, is because our ears are not tuned to his frequency. It is not that he is not speaking to us, it is just that we have forgotten what his voice sounds like. So, we miss it. This is why you and I need to get constantly, daily, into the Word of God. As you and I are into the Word, it is there that we learn God’s speech patterns. We begin to get our ears re-tuned the frequency of his voice.
When God is silent in your life and mine, it is a reminder to us that he is sovereign and we are not. That he will speak when, and where, and how, when he full well pleases, and not just when we demand it. God is sovereign. He is no idol.
Through his silence he reminds you and me of his reality. You and I don’t miss things that are not real. When God is silent, it is so painful because we so badly need the reality of his presence in our lives. That pain is a reminder of God’s reality. When God is silent, those most profound moments of silence are also the most profound moments of his presence. We have his promise that he is never absent from us.
We get caught up into so much stuff; and then when God goes silent; it is that silence, that pain of that silence, that stirs up in you and me that longing, that hunger, that will hopefully push us toward doing something about it. Moving us toward him and into the arms, the very arms, of Jesus Christ. Who by the way, is the only person who has ever lived on the face of this earth that has ever heard, the total deafening silence of God. As he was nailed to that cross, and from the cross cried out to God, ‘My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?’ And that cry was answered by nothing but silence.
“God’s silence is as much a sign of God’s presence as of God’s absence. That divine silence is not a vacuum to be filled, but a mystery to be entered into. Unarmed with words and undistracted by noise, a holy of holies, in which we too may be struck dumb by the power of the unsayable God.”