“He was oppressed, and He was afflicted, yet He opened not his mouth: He is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so He openeth not His mouth.” Isaiah 53:7
Jesus, known as the Lamb of God, endured the brutal physical torture that led up to His crucifixion; still, He opened not His mouth. He held His peace and remained silent. But what about when He seems to be silent in our lives? Where do we turn? What do we do when we experience the silence of the Lamb?
By silence, I do not mean that we once heard His audible voice in our ears which is somehow being restrained. By silence, I mean that there’s an emptiness; like He’s not active or “speaking” in our lives. Of course, sin would be an obvious reason for His withdrawal and silence – but what about when we are serving the Lord with all of our heart? Why are there still seasons of silence when He feels a million miles away?
I write this blog post, not from a self-help guru viewpoint. I write from the depths of my soul. I write as one who knows how it feels to yearn for a gesture of hope, yet, to hear nothing but deafening silence. I write knowing what it’s like to hurt; knowing how it feels to be in a deep, depressing pit with no rays of light shining in. I know. In the pit, I cry, “Oh God, please don’t hide your face from me. Give me God, or I die!” Life is meaningless and empty apart from God. “But my life is worth nothing to me unless I use it for finishing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus—the work of telling others the Good News about the wonderful grace of God” (Acts 20:24 NLT).
I felt much like Andrew Murray, a preacher of the Gospel in South Africa. One day, he was walking down the street and he suddenly fell with a gasp. Some that saw him fall, rushed toward him to check on him. The first one to get to him was a policeman. He lifted him up back on his feet and asked him, “What is wrong, why did you fall?” Andrew Murray said, “No, leave me be.” But the policeman insisted that he tell him what was wrong. Murray, realized he was going to have to give this policeman an answer. A tear came down his face as the onlookers were listening. He answered, “Just for a moment… just for a moment, I lost the consciousness of the presence of God.” This caused him to physically collapse down to the ground. I recalled this account and thought, “Has this happened to me – have I lost consciousness of God?” Or worse – I feared that, maybe, God had lost a consciousness of me. But I knew that couldn’t be true. His word says, “I [the Lord] will never leave thee, nor forsake thee” (Hebrews 13:5). Still, the silence and feeling of being alone in this cruel world began to set in and I found myself with a sense of emptiness and hopelessness. My spirit was dry and almost barren.
Instead of wallowing endlessly in my grief and pity, I decided to take what little energy I had left, which had not yet been zapped by apathy and depression, and use it toward studying this topic. I knew that others had experienced such “silent seasons” in life and I wanted to learn how I could keep my head above water during this time of my life; during a time when my spirit inside longed for revival amidst a land of dead, dry bones. My prayers during this season were, “Oh God, restore unto me the joy of salvation”, and “Please, shine your face upon me and speak to me.” I needed reassurance from Him.
Right before this silent season, I had been noticing my prayer life lacked zeal. I recognized it but didn’t really know how to remedy it completely. I was in a pattern of praying before bed and usually when I was too tired to focus; therefore, my prayers became rushed, rehearsed, and repetitious with very little enthusiasm. Maybe I was to blame for my misfortune by ignoring this nudging to do something about my apathetic prayer life? Nonetheless, I found myself in a deep, dark hole filled with sadness, unfulfilled longings, and immense frustration.
Having endured so many setbacks in life, (chronic health issues, loss of our home, life-altering disabilities, emotional and spiritual wounds inflicted by certain individuals, family members being hospitalized, loss of loved ones to death, etc.) I found myself becoming increasingly distraught and unable to take much more stress. Many things were stripped away and I was whittled down to the core of my being. It seemed life had turned out all wrong and situations kept going from bad to worse. It all weighed very heavy upon me, and I guess I just folded under the ongoing setbacks and became apathetic, saddened and overwhelmed. It seemed God went silent and my hope was deferred. “Hope deferred maketh the heart sick: but when the desire cometh, it is a tree of life” (Proverbs 13:12).
The more I thought about it, I recognized that God gave me the Bible as His word… so He wasn’t exactly silent. I also realized that He kept speaking to me in my dreams (see my post HERE) so He was still speaking then. But when I realized that His silence, otherwise, was an answer to my prayers – I felt a sense of peace. He knew all along what He was doing even when I didn’t understand. You see, I had been praying for God to give me a hunger and a thirst after righteousness (see Matthew 5:6). I also had been praying for a revival in my battle-weary spirit. Then I realized that His silence only made me long for Him more and more. I truly had a hunger and a thirst after Him, just like the Psalmist, who wrote, “As the deer pants after the water brooks, so pants my soul after thee, O God” (Psalm 42:1).
I recalled a quote by the Revivalist, Leonard Ravenhill, who said:
“There is no such thing as one filling with the Holy Ghost that’s going to last you from here to eternity. There are repeated anointings; there are times when God will withdraw himself and make you feel as though you are dropping into the nethermost hell. He’ll leave you alone to see if you’re going to struggle after his anointing or you’re going to go on in your own eloquence and ability. The Lord thy God is a jealous God.”
Finding Your Way In The Dark
“Trying to be happy without a sense of God’s presence is like trying to have a bright day without the sun.” ~A.W. Tozer
So, what do we do when we find ourselves in such silent seasons? Firstly, we must remember that if we are striving to please God, His silence does not mean His absence. Also, let us remember that just because He isn’t speaking does not mean that He isn’t listening. Furthermore, it does not mean that He is mad or pouting, as we fickle humans so often do. After we realize that His silence is for a reason, and not to hurt us, we can find some sense of assurance.
Look at it like this: We orient ourselves to our surroundings when the sun is shining. When the sun goes down and it is dark, we orient ourselves by recalling how it was when the sun was bright and illuminating our path. When it is dark, we must often walk by faith and not by sight (see 2nd Corinthians 5:7). We must trust that the Lord has sure footing beneath us even though we can’t see it. Just because the darkness falls upon us does not make the sure path beneath our feet disappear, somehow. Just because we can’t see the path, for a season, does not mean that it isn’t there. We must simply go by what we know deep within and what we saw when the sun was shining. This will keep us on course and on the path that leads to life. We remember that it is His Word which is a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path (see Psalm 119:105). We find guidance through His word.
When God is silent, it feels so dark, lonely and sad. But we have to go on what we know to be true during these times. It’s not a sin to feel sorrow. God made us with emotions and we are not robotic. But remember this too; His silence is for a reason, only for a season – and it isn’t meant to harm us. Then, when the sun shines again, we will greatly rejoice! We come to a greater appreciation when we hear His voice speaking encouragement into our lives, once again. It is the most soothing feeling on earth!
Please Note: I wrote what was on my heart in this blog, but have linked a few sermons, songs, and an article below that expound on this topic in an even greater way. I would highly recommend these resources as a source of help, hope and encouragement.
Article: When God Seems Silent (Read HERE).
See additional sermons and songs below. ↓ ↓ ↓