Written by Alec Mangum | ChattHOP Intern
Silence: I used to think it was punishment. I used to think that the lack of God’s voice was him “teaching me a lesson” or “whipping me into shape.” Like a rebellious puppy you turn your back to in order to display disapproval, I thought that when God was silent, it meant that there was something I was doing wrong.
Quick, find the flaw, Alec! What are you doing that’s causing God to look the other way?
I can only imagine how much this must have broken God’s heart. See, as time went on, I began to realize that the silence was something more of a gift than a punishment. As a season of quiet stretched on, the reality that I was missing something began to take hold.
God wasn’t pushing me away… He was drawing me closer. He was teaching me to rest.
I think so many times in life, when God’s voice becomes faint, we instantly turn inward. We burrow ourselves into hole, searching frantically for a reason that our Father would not answer our call. We look outwardly, too. Left and right, we search, looking to those around us for the answers.
“Why won’t God answer me?”
“Where is He when you need Him?”
“I feel so far away from Jesus.”
We cry out to Heaven, begging for one thing: answers. But maybe we’re missing the point. Maybe there’s something more to be gained in the silence. We know God doesn’t make mistakes. It’s crazy how quickly we forget that. I believe God will lead us into seasons of silence in order to test our ability to rest in Him.
I know what you’re thinking. “How can I learn to rest, when the One who gives me peace seems so absent?”
Maybe we need to redefine our perception of “rest.”
We often see rest as something that is easy or at least instinctive. Catnaps and lounging; these are the things we most often identify with rest. We assume that rest is the same as relaxation. But God calls us (yet again) to something higher. He calls us to the form of rest that will both stretch and strengthen us.
“Be still and know that I am God…” -Psalm 46:10 (NIV)
True spiritual rest isn’t sunbathing in a meadow. It isn’t on a couch cushion. It’s not on a bed of grass or a swaying hammock. It’s on the groaning deck of a tussling ship, surrounded by violent waves. When we learn to fall asleep like Jesus did in the presence of chaos, completely content with the promise of protection from the Father, we will have stepped into true, God-filled rest.
God’s silence is a gift because it causes us to lean on his promises and the truth of his grace to find peace and rest. The storm rages, but we will not be shaken, because we know that in all things, we are walking with the Father. We are his chosen people. There’s nothing in all the Universe that removes that seal of ownership. We belong to God. He doesn’t abandon us. He just doesn’t.
As we wait for God’s voice, we are empowered to live a life of fullness and joy, of peace and rest. In the waiting, we are made whole. We must come to grips with this reality if we are to come fully into what God has called us to be: a people not wavered by wind or wave.
“All around us we observe a pregnant creation. The difficult times of pain throughout the world are simply birth pangs. But it’s not only around us; it’s within us. The Spirit of God is arousing us within. We’re also feeling the birth pangs. These sterile and barren bodies of ours are yearning for full deliverance. That is why waiting does not diminish us, any more than waiting diminishes a pregnant mother. We are enlarged in the waiting. We, of course, don’t see what is enlarging us. But the longer we wait, the larger we become, and the more joyful our expectancy.” -Romans 8:22-25 (MSG)
Rest is knowing your circumstances and still choosing to trust the promises of God. It’s expectancy. It’s contentment. This is the gift of God’s Silence. He isn’t neglecting you. He hasn’t forgotten you. Rest in his promises. Be empowered in the waiting.