In a world so very full of noise, we are not used to quiet. Think about it, we have the noise of other people talking, traffic outside of our home and places of work, our telephone notifications, the radio, and even “white noise” in offices to drown out the other noise. My husband has to have a fan on when sleeping at night, not to keep him cool, but to keep the air circulating in the room and to drown out the nighttime noise. Everywhere we go, we experience noise. If we are sitting with another person, and both are silent, after a little bit someone will “make small talk.” That’s because when we are faced with silence we don’t know what to do with it, and we are uncomfortable. That awkward silence can lead you to other actions besides inconsequential conversation.
Being uncomfortable with silence was never more apparent to me as when my son was a toddler. It seems to me that anyone who’s ever been the mother to a toddler, has a heightened sense of hearing. It’s like God gives us super hearing power so that we can tune into the noises around our home. When we are trying to get our baby to sleep through the night, we welcome the quiet when they finally fall asleep. We know that if our child is not napping or sleeping for the night, and all of a sudden all is quiet, our senses are piqued, and we have to investigate. Every time it got silent in my home, I would have to drop whatever I was doing to check on my son, and sure enough, he was doing something that he was not supposed to be doing.
While those little silences can be pesky, it’s the big silences that truly make our lives miserable. You’ve interviewed for a job that you really wanted, they said that they would make a decision by the end of the week, and three weeks or more have gone by. Your teenager is late from curfew, and they don’t answer their telephone. You ask your spouse an important question and they don’t reply. You write a letter, or email, pouring your heart out to someone you love and they don’t answer.
Perhaps the most unsettling silence of all is when you’re facing a crisis and you’ve cried out to God – and God doesn’t respond. You rally all your strength and you cry, perhaps you scream. “Can’t you see me God?” “Why don’t you answer me God?” Night after night you toss and turn. You wonder if God cares. You feel isolated and rejected. And, you simply cannot see an end to your plight. You pray to God daily, perhaps minute by minute seeking His guidance and you are met with silence, and the silence is deafening. What do you do with that circumstance?
First and foremost when I am faced with circumstances where God is silent, I need to remember that I am in good company. Even King David, a man after God’s own heart felt alone, isolated, and faced times when he felt that God was silent. His words in Psalm 22:1-2: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning? O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer, and by night, but I find no rest.” (ESV) As His child I know that God is always with me, and God is faithful. But, that’s not always something that is on the top of my mind during a wilderness experience.
I also need to realize that perhaps silence is what I need. I don’t mean silence from God, but silence from inside of myself. Maybe, just maybe, God is calling for me to silence myself. If you are like me then calming myself and silencing my mind is a nearly impossible feat to achieve. I simply just can’t seem to get to a point of silence, especially when troubled. My mind races, and I replay the circumstances over and over and over in my mind, even more so at night when I’m trying to sleep. God may want silence from me so that He can cut through the clutter. Perhaps He’s already speaking to me in His still, small voice, and I can’t hear Him through all the noise going on inside my head and spirit. Perhaps what I most need to do is to get into a quiet place, grab my Bible, maybe even a topical Bible reference help book (such as the Bible Promise Book, or Promises from God for Daily Living), and if I feel the need then add in some soft praise and worship music and wait. Wait and Trust. Wait for God to speak into my heart, mind, and soul. Wait for Him to guide me. Let Him guide me through the scriptures for those words of wisdom that will buoy up my soul. Trust that He will, He always has in the past, and deep down I know that He always will.
God will answer. God’s love never fails.
“O God, do not keep silence; do not hold your peace or be still, O God!” (Psalm 83:1, ESV)
“Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me. If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light about me be night,” even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is bright as the day, for darkness is as light with you. (Psalm 139:7, 9-12, ESV)
“It is the LORD who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.” (Deuteronomy 31:8, ESV)