A Personal Reflection on the Silence of God

A Personal Reflection on the Silence of God

9 minutes reading time

God is…

I have always felt that there are some things in life that are just bloody obvious, one of these being God’s existence. I find it quite astonishing that someone could really believe that all the dazzling wonder within and the infinite complexity present in the world is a mere cosmic coincidence, driven by a random first cause. That is irrational. The more I dive into the complexity of life, the universe, and all that science has and is revealing, the more I see how unrealistic it is to cling to naturalistic worldviews, and how necessary it is to invoke a grand mind in the explanation of it all. The whole frame of nature signifies an intelligent author.

Atheism is not just merely implausible but so intellectually sloppy as to be embarrassing. Atheism provides no coherent warrant to trust the capacity for reason. I have never met a consistent atheist who thoroughly lives according to the relativised morality implied by their worldview. Richard Dawkins announces that there is “at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but pitiless indifference.” But does he live like that? Atheism entails nihilism, but true nihilism lived out often leads to suicide, and hence no one can live out the fruit of that worldview. All I have seen is atheists either prop up poor excuses to bypass what their Godless worldview implies, or openly admit they are inconsistent with what they believe. Neither of those approaches deserves respect. While atheism seems to be the growing norm, it is just a regressive drift into thoughtlessness and chaos.

With the power of reason and the use of my intuition, I am confronted with one clear conclusion – God exists. To say otherwise is to be intellectually blind. St. Paul the Apostle wrote:

“There is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live; and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live.”

Not only am I convinced of the existence of God, but also His testimony in the gospel. An honest dive into the historical account of Christ and you will find that the gospel accounts really are true. To deny the resurrection of Christ you have to propose completely implausible scenarios to reconcile the historical evidence with a secular worldview. Better yet, I have encountered and witnessed the transformative power of the Gospel. I do believe that Christ actually rose from the dead. I have good reason to believe this. He is the Son of the living God.

And yet…

And yet, I nonetheless confess that God still feels like a mystery to me. How many times, noticing my own hypocrisy and inconsistencies, have I pleaded for God to strengthen and help me, and felt nothing? How many times have I felt the despair of loneliness, called out to God, and heard nothing? How many times have I been in anguish regarding the general moral ignorance sweeping the world, pleading that God would perform a wonder or sign to wake us all up, and again, nothing? It’s as if He is silent, and perhaps He is. I look out at the world, seeing all the suffering and pain, and cry out like the prophet Habakkuk, “O Lord, how long shall I cry, and You will not hear? Even cry out to you, ‘Violence!’ and You will not save.” (Hab.1:2).

Psalm 74 resonates with me:

We are given no signs from God;
    no prophets are left,
    and none of us knows how long this will be.
How long will the enemy mock you, God?
    Will the foe revile your name forever?
Why do you hold back your hand, your right hand?
    Take it from the folds of your garment and destroy them!
(Psalm 74: 9-11)

And so, if I am honest, I don’t understand God as well as I would like. Of course, all of us have incomplete knowledge of God. As the biblical figure Job experienced, God is God. I am a mere man. God knows things that I cannot even fathom. His ways are infinitely higher than mine. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are His ways higher than my ways and his thoughts than my thoughts. I am reminded of the words of Isiah:

Who has known the mind of the Lord  or been able to give him advice? Whom did he ask for help? Who taught him the right way? Who taught him knowledge and showed him the way to understanding?” (Isaiah 40:13-14)

The answer is obvious – no one. I love how Paul the apostle pushes the same point:

“Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God!  How unsearchable his judgements, and his paths beyond tracing out! Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counsellor? Who has ever given to God, that God should repay them? For from him and through him and for him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.” (Romans 11:33-36)

So, while I do not understand God as well as I would like, I still trust that God knows what’s best and that His actions or lack thereof are justified. After all, who am I to question the Almighty? 

And yet, this doesn’t always help much, does it? I long for a personal relationship with God. The greatest struggle of my faith is reconciling the silence – the feeling of being disconnected from Him. I want to hear from Him. But I don’t. At least not in the way I would like. No matter how much I ignore or push it back, I can’t change the fact that I still want to hear his voice. Desperately. For reasons I can neither control nor really understand, my inner being is compelled, drawn, longing for God. I wonder what He thinks or how He feels, but often feel unable to gain that knowledge. I fear being left in the unknown. I seek Him out in the scriptures, and I am thankful for how much I have learned, but still, I want more. I want to know God like a son knows his father, like an employee his employer. I wish He would speak to me clearly. Just pause and imagine what it would actually be like to hear or see the Almighty, to be in His actual presence. I can’t think of a more fulfilling moment.

Perhaps you, if you are a Christian, can also relate. Recently I watched the 2022 TV series Obi-Wan Kenobi, based on the Star Wars franchise, and part of it really resonated with me. Obi-Wan had spent 10 years in hiding after Order 66 and the fall of his apprentice, Anakin Skywalker. Staying in hiding, Obi-Wan reaches out to his former master, Qui-Gon Jinn, whom he believed would reconnect with him from the afterlife. After 10 years of reaching out to Qui-Gon, he hears nothing. He feels entirely alone. At the end of the series, Obi-Wan returns to his home after a long journey rescuing Princess Leia Organa and having faced off Darth Vader. As he returns to his homeland he is welcomed by his old master, Qui-Gon, appearing from the afterlife. Obi-wan speaks to Qui-Gon, “I was beginning to think you would never come.” Qui-Gon responds, “I was always here, Obi-Wan, you were just never ready to see.” They go off into the desert together, with Qui-Gon saying they have a lot of work to do. I know this is a bizarre comparison, but like Obi-wan I feel the need to hold on. To keep faith. I trust that God will one day reveal Himself. 

I sometimes wonder whether there is much for me to learn in the “silence”. I wonder whether God is testing me, to see whether I will hold strong and stay faithful, or whether I will give up, as many have. Perhaps this struggle is for my benefit, turning me into someone who can prevail, who will transform and withstand the harsh and barren seasons of life. In fact, if I have learned anything from reading the Bible it is this – trusting in God is going to be bloody difficult.

Take Abraham for example, called by God to leave home and country, he journeys forward into life. And what does he encounter, after heeding the call of God? First, famine. The tyranny in Egypt; the potential loss of his beautiful wife to more powerful men; exile from his adopted country; conflicts over territory with his kinsmen; war, and the kidnapping of his nephew; extended childlessness; and worst of all, terrible conflict within his family.

Or consider Joseph, called by God to save Egypt and Israel throughout a seven-year famine, but before this comes into fruition Joseph is abandoned by his brothers, sold into slavery and then unjustly imprisoned.

Generations later, Moses was appointed by God to bring Israel out from the tyranny of Egypt. And yet, before his appointment he spends 40 years not hearing from God, living effectively as an ‘outcast’. Then once Moses does lead Israel out of Egypt, Israel immediately starts worshipping other gods, and Moses faces nothing but struggles from then on.

Furthermore, think about the story of Job. Job is a righteous man who honors God, and yet what happens to him? All of Job’s livestock are killed or stolen. His beloved children die suddenly. Job himself is afflicted with agonising sores all over his body. His wife basically tells him that his life isn’t worth living. Then to top it off his friends blame him, telling him that his suffering is just well-deserved karma, which just isn’t the case. Job is left confused and begins to question- “God, why are you letting this happen?”

I could keep going. The point is, almost all the men and women called by God throughout the Bible faced tremendous challenges and felt the loneliness from God to extents I can’t yet comprehend. Does that mean God isn’t real and didn’t care? By no means. In the end God revealed himself and answered, in every case.

Right now, God feels very silent to me, but that doesn’t sway my confidence in Him. Throughout the Bible, there are patches where God doesn’t seem to speak or connect with His people for hundreds of years (at least not recorded). Yet throughout scripture is the foretelling of a time when God will speak to all in both a final judgement and salvation.

Whatever God’s reasoning, I trust that one day I will know God more personally, that He will further reveal Himself to me. I am confident about this because of the salvation message inherent in the gospel. In the meantime I will continue to learn and seek out what is good and will order my life in ways that honor God’s intentions and standards. I will keep on up the road of repentance. I have the scriptures to continually refer to. I will continue to pray and trust that He hears. Ultimately, I recognise that He is God and I am man. He will do as he pleases. And that’s OK. Although God is not obvious, He is inevitable. I thank God for the finished work of the cross and trust in the gospel for my salvation and redemption. And whether it be in this life or when I die, because of what Christ did, I am confident my longings for Him will be met. 

What about you?

If you believe in God, I would encourage you to ask yourself where your faith is at. Don’t dull it down; be honest with yourself. Then think about what practical steps you can take to grow your faith – whether that be by prayer, studying and meditating on the scripture or acts of worship like generosity to the poor and vulnerable. Do good, uphold love, encourage justice. Most importantly, trust in God. Wait on Him, whether that be for months, years or your entire life.

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