Saturday, April 18, 2009

When God Is Silent

I just finished talking to a loved one who is going through a bad place. They're angry--at God, at life. They expected certain things to have happened in their life that haven't happened yet. They're wondering what more does God want, and why won't he speak to them?

I can certainly relate to what my loved one is going through. Nearly six years ago, the bottom rather unexpectedly fell out in my world. When it happened, I thought I was doing everything God required of me: I was in leadership, I was in church every Sunday, I prayed every day, I read my Bible and spent at least an hour daily in quiet time--I even tithed. And then he allowed devastation into my life. How could he do that after all I was doing?

I went into a tailspin. It was awful. I stopped going to church, stopped reading my Bible, stopped praying. In fact, I stopped doing most things except wallowing in my dark place. One day, I'd had enough. I wanted to know why. Why had this horrible thing happened? Didn't God care about me? Didn't he love me? If he did, he wouldn't let me go through such a heartache. I screamed at him--'Why God? Why?'

He didn't answer. He has actually never answered why I had to endure what I did, but little by little he showed me that he was there through it all. In fact, he brought to mind a dream I'd had about the very trauma 10 years before it happened. He knew it would happen, and he took time to give me a small forewarning--a small measure of grace.

Little by little I began to climb out of my hole. I began to accept that I may never know this side of heaven why my life took that unwelcome detour. I began to have peace. But I learned something: Before, my life was spent with doing. Secretly, I'd been ticking off the 'good' boxes in my life. Paying tithes, check. Reading Bible, check. But really having a relationship with my Lord and Savior, not so much. We were like good work buddies. You know, you spend 40 hours a week with someone, you get to know them, but only on a superficial level.

I've grown more in my relationship now than I ever have. I am learning to really pray, and to really trust God when there's no light, no relief and no immediate answer. I won't say that I don't have my moments of doubt. There are certainly times when I want to question God about other unanswered things in my life, but, as David said:

1 I waited patiently for the LORD;
he turned to me and heard my cry.

2 He lifted me out of the slimy pit,
out of the mud and mire;
he set my feet on a rock
and gave me a firm place to stand.

3 He put a new song in my mouth,
a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear
and put their trust in the LORD.

4 Blessed is the man
who makes the LORD his trust,
who does not look to the proud,
to those who turn aside to false gods. [a]

5 Many, O LORD my God,
are the wonders you have done.
The things you planned for us
no one can recount to you;
were I to speak and tell of them,
they would be too many to declare.

6 Sacrifice and offering you did not desire,
but my ears you have pierced [b] , [c] ;
burnt offerings and sin offerings
you did not require.

7 Then I said, "Here I am, I have come—
it is written about me in the scroll. [d]

8 I desire to do your will, O my God;
your law is within my heart."

9 I proclaim righteousness in the great assembly;
I do not seal my lips,
as you know, O LORD.

10 I do not hide your righteousness in my heart;
I speak of your faithfulness and salvation.
I do not conceal your love and your truth
from the great assembly.

11 Do not withhold your mercy from me, O LORD;
may your love and your truth always protect me.

12 For troubles without number surround me;
my sins have overtaken me, and I cannot see.
They are more than the hairs of my head,
and my heart fails within me.

13 Be pleased, O LORD, to save me;
O LORD, come quickly to help me.

14 May all who seek to take my life
be put to shame and confusion;
may all who desire my ruin
be turned back in disgrace.

15 May those who say to me, "Aha! Aha!"
be appalled at their own shame.

16 But may all who seek you
rejoice and be glad in you;
may those who love your salvation always say,
"The LORD be exalted!"

17 Yet I am poor and needy;
may the Lord think of me.
You are my help and my deliverer;
O my God, do not delay.

I pray that my loved one will learn this psalm, too.