For an entire month, my two boys have been visiting grandparents. I needed to time for my summer class. It is basically impossible to work nights, go to class all morning and have the boys all afternoon. They got to spend some quality time with both sets of grandparents, I got to actually live through my three week course. It was necessary, but it was difficult.
The longer we were apart, the more I was longing to see the boys. It was consuming my mind to the point where I could not focus on my school work or much else. I just wanted to see them, to be with them. I had to be with them. By the last Friday, I would have done just about anything to see them.
But that sense of desperation does not last. It will not be long before having them here will be common place again. I will be looking for small moments of peace by myself again. They will not be on the front of my mind constantly. They’ll be here, just like they always are.
I think that can point to a cause behind why God sometimes seems quiet. There are two answers to the question, “Why is God quiet?” The first is a philosophical answer that deals mainly with atheistic objections to why God is not obvious in our world. The second, which is what I want to think about today, is a more relational question from a Christian perspective. Why does it sometimes seem like God is silent in my life? Why can I not feel Him right beside me all the time?
So many devout followers of Christ experience what has been called “the dark night of the soul.” Mother Teresa, three months prior to accepting the Nobel prize, wrote to a spiritual confidant and described the spiritual “silence and the emptiness” in her life as being “so great, that I look and do not see, listen and do not hear.” From a recently released collection of her letters, it seems this woman who showed Christ to the lowest of the low in Calcutta did not feel God’s presence for almost 50 years. Yet, oh how much did she serve Him.
I think of Christ on the cross, the only person who could truly ever ask completely, “My God, my God, why have you foresaken me?” The One who had lived the perfect, sinless life with total communion with the Father is the One who felt the inexplicable agony of having the Father turn His back at the sin, which had been placed on Him.
Silence from God does not necessarily mean displeasure from God. Sometimes I think it may be the opposite. Obviously, there are times when our fellowship with God is disrupted by our sin. Those situations are fairly easy to correct – get rid of the sin. But sometimes it seems we are seeking God, following Him, regularly avoiding sin, yet God still seems distant, quiet.
I think about my boys, their absence made me long for them so much more. In some ways the adage is true – absence does make the heart grow fonder. It makes the heart focus on benefits of the relationship. It causes you to eventually ache for reunion. Even more than when the other person is right beside you, they are consuming your thoughts.
It seems to me that sometimes the best way for God to get our attention is for Him to stay silent for awhile. He does not do this with new Christians or immature believers. They need Him to be constantly holding their hand and reassuring them of His love. But eventually He calls us to a deeper relationship. Eventually, the relationship has to develop trust. I have to trust that even when God may not seem to be there, He always is.
It is during those times that I so long for Him that I will grow. Just like when the boys were gone, my mind was consumed with them and it was overriding every other facet of my life, God wants to be that. A way that He can bring about me desiring Him that way is to take away my awareness of His presence.
Too often, when a Christian goes through difficult circumstances or God just doesn’t feel present, we begin to doubt and drift away instead of seeking Him even more. Too often, when things are going good in the Christian’s life, we get used to God being there and we become complacent.
When we enter periods of our life where we fail to feel God’s presence, we should ask first if we have any unconfessed sin in our life. If the answer to that is no, then we should ask God what He is trying to teach us during this time. He may be trying to drive you deeper in Him, seeking more of His presence, longing for Him and Him alone. God may be quiet because He wants you to find Him.