“It was the hardest time in my life, my mother had just passed away and I would cry out to God but it seemed like he wasn’t there.” If you are like me than you have heard this plea before. A tragedy comes. A trip through the valley. Or a time of heartache in someones life. All of these moments create doubt in people’s minds and they begin to doubt if God is truly present. If he is, “then why can’t I hear him?”
As a pastor I want to be sympathetic to these heartaches but I also want my people to grow in their relationship with God. So the question I want to ask in response is “Do you not have a Bible?” I know that can sound heartless but I want that question to stretch your mind on how God communicates to his people. Here are some reasons why I think people can say God is silent:
- WE MISUNDERSTAND THE BIBLE. Too many times we read the Scriptures as a yellow book that gives us a quick answer. What do I need to do at this moment, in this situation? Open the Bible. . .quick verse . . .close the Bible. Instead of seeing the Bible as a reference tool or a book of stories. We need to read it as the Spirit of God speaking to us in the midst of our heartache. Look to Joshua 1 when God promises the people of God that he will not live them nor forsake them. These are not words just to the people of Israel thousands of years ago but they are the words of the Spirit to you in your heartache. God is not silent. You simply need to ponder, meditate, and take refuge in his Holy Word.
- PEOPLE WANT THE AUDIBLE. In our culture, we long to pick up the phone and have a friend at the other end of the line. We want that personal touch that comes from hearing a voice. So in some mystical way we cry out to God and then wait for an answer. This is when we become frustrated or begin to depend on our feelings. People often feel like their spiritual life is lacking when they don’t “hear” from God like others say they do. Maybe you’re not supposed to. The Scriptures are sufficient for you in the midst of your struggles and tragedy. In fact, Peter writes that the written prophetic word is MORE sure than hearing God’s voice on a mountain (see 2 Peter 1:16-21).
- WE WANT A QUICK FIX. The problem with living in America during the 21st century is that we want what we want, and we want it now. So when we hurt and feel abandoned by God we cry out so that it will be over soon. Sometimes we really don’t want to hear from God we just want him to make it go away. God has a plan for our sufferings and for our valleys. Sometimes it might mean to listen to His voice as we meditate on His Word. Think of the temptations of Christ in Matthew 4, during his time in the wilderness Jesus did not cry foul because God had abandoned Him rather he took refuge in the Scriptures.
So it’s not that I am heartless and that I don’t care about people’s struggles. I actually want you to hear from God, only in God’s way. So the next time your friend feels neglected by God and says he can’t hear his voice. Ask him if he needs a ride to the bookstore.