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Sunday, January 23, 2011

A Deafening Silence

silent snowI’ve been going through a season where it has seemed to me that God has been silent in response to my prayers. I’ve been praying for very specific things and I’ve been praying for more general things. But it seems that God has been silent.

I’ve been banging on heaven’s door, pounding long and hard till my hands bleed. But no one seems to be home. No one answers. I know I have the right house – I double- and triple-checked the address. I bang and pound some more.

I cry out to heaven. I understand the Psalmist who wrote

O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer,
   and by night, but I find no rest. -
Psalm 22:2

As I cry out day and night, there is a deafening silence from heaven.

Or so I thought.

In reality, this isn’t the way God is responding to me. He’s not been silent at all. I have been a little like Elijah in 1 Kings 19.

Elijah was expecting God to show up in a dramatic and loud way – as He had in the past. But God was not in the “great and strong wind” like He was at the shores of the Red Sea or in the Upper Room at Pentecost. God was not in the “earthquake” like He was on the day that Christ died and again the day Christ rose from the dead, and again when He released Paul and Silas from jail in Philippi. God was not in the “fire” like He was at Sodom and Gomorrah or during the night of the wilderness wanderings of Israel at the Exodus.

God sometimes shows up in answer to prayer in huge and loud ways.

But sometimes –and this has been my experience lately – He shows up in the gentle whisper of a prayer, a song that plays on the radio, a Bible verse in a daily devotion, in a line from a sermon, in an envelope in the mail, in a phone call from a friend.

The deafening silence from heaven has had the effect of making me listen all the more intently. Like when you can’t hear what a person has said and you stop what you are doing, turn to them so you can see their face, and listen all the harder.

In Lamentations 3:25-33 it says this about the good of a deafening silence

25The LORD is good to those who wait for him,
   to the soul who seeks him.
26 It is good that one should wait quietly
   for the salvation of the LORD.
27 It is good for a man that he bear
   the yoke in his youth.

28 Let him sit alone in silence
   when it is laid on him;
29 let him put his mouth in the dust—
   there may yet be hope;
30 let him give his cheek to the one who strikes,
   and let him be filled with insults.

31 For the Lord will not
   cast off forever,
32 but, though he cause grief, he will have compassion
according to the abundance of his steadfast love;
33 for he does not willingly afflict
   or grieve the children of men.

God has not been silent in the way I thought He was – not answering my prayers. He’s been silent so I change or stop what I’m doing so I can hear him.

As I turn back to Him, as I face Him once again, He has been in the process of answering my prayers.

And this gives me courage and hope to carry on.

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