“When you hear God’s silence, and feel his absence, trust in his presence.”
— Gavin Adams (Watermarke Church)
Every Christian, and a vast number of non-Christians, have experienced the silence and absence of God; the felt phenomenon. Of course, God is ever present, but we are ever so prone to feeling neglected, unanswered, and abandoned. It is our human default to not give God the credit his faithfulness deserves, because we assign to God (often without thinking) a human standard of care. I mean, how many humans have failed us?
There is also the practical issue of God intentionally leaving us to our own devices, especially when we have strayed from the straight path, or when we insist on a prayer being answered, or when life just isn’t working out ‘as it should’.
But sometimes we are trying our best to obey God, and still there is a void; still we cannot feel or sense God; the Lord has become more silent than ever, and absent to us.
Why does this occur?
Explaining the Silences and Absences of God
I’m not sure if there is a categorical explanation; one that fits all situations.
But we can say, and this is where the blessedness is contained, that when we feel God has withdrawn his Presence from us, we are being given an opportunity to grow in faith and godly maturity. We have to be careful, however, for that not to sound clichéd. Only afterward will we truly know what we have gained out of such a dry time. And we always gain in accord with trust.
Perhaps it is a case that God’s silences and absences are about training us to seek God ever more fervently—and to learn the golden art of trust without reason to trust: faith!
Resisting Temptations To Run from God
It’s natural during dry times of absence and silence to respond to our anxiousness for God’s comfort by seeking comfort in things other than God. The world has a never-ending array of very poor substitutes for God—and most if not all of these are problematic. When we run from God we may run into the unreliable arms of those we shouldn’t trust just so we will feel momentarily comfortable, or we will run to a drug or alcohol or food, etc.
But the Presence of God is found in trust.
In our dryness, baroness and emptiness is the very faculty needed in receiving God. Yet, because we see no evidence of God we run, instead of seeing silence and absence as a sign—an opportunity—for the impression and action of faith.
Feeling alone without God creates anguish. But, when we make a stand, in our peril, and seek God instead of running from God, we display trust. God never betrays such trust. We must be determined to make God our comfort and not worldly temptations.
© 2012 S. J. Wickham.