By Larry Kreider
I meet so many people who struggle with hearing God speak to them. They really want to hear His voice, but it seems He has stopped talking. I certainly understand. This has happened to me many times in my life. But I have learned so much during these times of silence.
If we would be really honest, most of us would admit there are times we feel God is distant. These are sometimes called “dark nights of the soul”; the Lord seems to be quiet.
So, what should you do when you no longer hear God speaking? This may be a time when He is doing His deepest work in your life. He may be getting your attention so you stop and listen and receive His grace that will penetrate to the core of your being.
We need Him desperately
God’s silence is always a reminder of how desperately we need Him. Do not fear God’s silence. When He is silent and life seems dark, it can motivate us to place our full trust in Him. We pay more attention to directions when we are lost in the woods!
When God is silent, it doesn’t mean He is absent. King David at times felt abandoned by God. Yet despite the silence, David knew he was never out of God’s sight. “Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I fall from your presence?… If I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast” (Psalm 139:7, 9-12).
Behind the scenes
And by the way, the Lord is more concerned about His work in your life than about the spiritual goals you have set for yourself. Oswald Chambers once said, “God is not working toward a particular finish—His purpose is the process itself.” Our God is the God of the process, even in His silence. He is working behind the scenes to prepare the way for us in the future. Remember Joseph? He had a hard time hearing God speak for thirteen years, but God had been preparing him so that at the right place and the right time, Joseph could help save the world from famine.
In Thailand, a farmer plants a bamboo seedling, but will not see any growth on the surface the first year. He patiently continues to water and tend to the seedling during the next three years. Suddenly, in the fifth year, the bamboo tree begins to grow. It rapidly shoots up two or more feet each day and can reach a height of about ninety feet.
Although growth cannot be seen with the human eye during the beginning years, the tree develops an extensive root system that, if stretched out in a linear fashion, could be miles long. This is all happening beneath the surface. During those first four years, the foundation is established to provide for the significant growth that eventually occurs.
The bamboo tree is an example from nature of how God often works in our lives. During the seasons when I thought God was silent, I found out later that He had been working in my life. I was just unaware of it at the time.
What God was doing
In some cases, He was weeding out my dependence on the approval of others. God knew that I needed to learn to receive my significance and security from Him, not from those around me. I needed to learn to obey God and know that His love is enough to sustain me.
One day I read the verse where Jesus said, “As the Father has loved me, so I also love you” (John 15:9). That scriptural truth was life changing for me. I began to understand deep in my spirit that I was loved by God. This was a revelation that went beyond just knowing something in my mind. The truth became ingrained in my heart. In seasons of life when God seemed silent, I still knew I was loved by God because His Word told me so.
In years to come, I discovered that many Christians struggle at times with feeling insecure in God’s love, especially when God seems to be silent. Our Father in heaven told Jesus, “I love you, and I am pleased with you” (Luke 3:22). Jesus tells us, “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you” (John 15:9). I have often prayed these scriptures over myself and others and seen them bring a revelation of our heavenly Father’s love. This is a love that cannot be earned by the things we do, but only received by faith.
Lavished on us
There is nothing you can ever do to get God to love you more. There is nothing you can ever do that would cause Him to love you less. Our heavenly Father loves you, just because He loves you! “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” (I John 3:1).
When we cannot hear or see God at work in our lives, the reality is that He is laying a root system within us that will produce abundant growth. His work in our lives will build within us the capacity to fulfill His purposes. I pray that God’s love for you will permeate deep into your soul, especially in times when He seems to be silent. Do not fear a season of silence; God is at work!