Updated: Aug 28
This is already a familiar refrain by Psalm 13. David has wondered before about God's seeming indifference and will again. Over and over. Loudly. Painfully. I can identify! There have been times in my life that I cried out to God relentlessly and He seemed to ignore me. My last blog addresses this very topic in a superficially different light.
There are seasons when God's silence seems deliberate, almost punitive. When God seems silent in our pleas for relief or guidance, it can appear cruel in the moment.
If God is love, is this really an accurate interpretation of His silence? Could there be an ultimately loving intent?
Relentless, unheard cries.
Twelve years ago, when I learned at my twelve-week sonogram that my baby boy had markers for some genetic anomaly, I felt a rush of inexplicable peace. I didn't elect to get further testing because I knew I was keeping the baby no matter what. Isaac's dad wasn't worried, my friends reassured me with their stories of wrong results. But I just knew Isaac had Down syndrome.
After that initial rush of peace beyond understanding, fear crept in and mushroomed. I had so many questions for God. I was angry and confused. Yes, I was 43-years-old and the unexpected pregnancy was risky, but really, God? After all I'd been through? What about MY plan? I wrestled mightily with my Father, begging Him to "take this cup."
When Isaac was born and the diagnosis was confirmed, I was crushed…even though I loved him fiercely, which seemed only to amplify the effect. This was something no amount of hard work, intellect, or good intentions could change.
Hour after hour, I sat in my glider nursing Isaac, pleading with God, just like David (in fact, sometimes praying the Psalms), reading my Bible as though it was life itself (truer than you think). God was silent.
He didn't immediately answer my desperate cries for comfort and perspective.
He didn't rescue me from my grief and confusion.
He didn't explain Himself.
It wasn't long before I found myself like Job,
"Though he slay me, I will hope in him..."
Job 13:15a (ESV)
Where else could I go? What else could I do?
I also so relate to David's lament in verse 2, "How long must a take in my soul, and have sorrow in my heart all day...?" David had to comfort and counsel himself, absent God or friend(2). I was living in a small rural town at the time, and didn't feel I could talk to anyone about my complex swirl of feelings. Isaac's father didn't understand and couldn't help. Nobody could. But God!
My mute cries went on for months. Then suddenly, and mysteriously (not), the oppressive weight vanished as though it had never been. Light rushed in dispelling the darkness. The light brought with it new insight, meaning, purpose, and joy. So much joy. Just like The Book says.
Today, I count Isaac as one of greatest blessings of my life. Not like consolation prize blessing, but like an exquisite, keenly wise, and extravagant love gift. I wish everyone could experience the unique quality of unbridled love, supernatural wisdom, humor, and fun that Isaac delivers daily. In some profound ways, Isaac is a present custom-designed for me personally. My Father knew just what I needed.
This remains an object lesson I return to again and again.
In those months of silent seeking, God was reshaping my ideals, reshaping me. Mostly, though, He was beckoning.
A former mentor who recently went to heaven used to say problems and challenges are God's way of saying, "Come closer." I find that’s true.
Yet with free will, we have the option of letting hardships draw us ever nearer to God or push us further and further away. While tempting in the very darkest silences, distancing ourselves from God leads only to greater darkness.
Jesus is the Light!
Admittedly, it is far easier to see the mystery of God's love in Isaac than in so many other random, difficult things that happen in life. We cannot always trace the love line (or our part) in hindsight or imagine any good coming of certain unspeakable tragedies. We must always remember that this is a fallen world--broken, devolving into utter chaos (science calls it entropy), apart from Christ. That's what The Book says. Repeatedly. Expect trouble. Honestly, it's the only thing that makes any sense all. And that's Good News.
The Good News!
As repetitive as David's sad and mad laments about God's absence are, chapter after chapter, so too are his shouts of victory and praise, rejoicing in God's deliverance, protection, power, mercy, and love. David often ends on a high note, as he does in Psalm 13:
5 But I have trusted in your steadfast love;
my heart shall rejoice in your salvation.
6 I will sing to the Lord,
because he has dealt bountifully with me. (v5)
God knows we are prone to wander and that the best, safest place for us is ever-closer to Him. His loving intent in those times when He seems most absent is a lover's call to return to our One True Love, our Safe Place, Our Refuge, and yes, our Salvation here and hereafter.
Whatever the outcomes we face here on earth, in Christ, we are promised the definitive happy ending. One that transcends all we can ask for or imagine. I'm so very privileged to have glimpsed this through the eyes of people who've been there in writing several Guideposts near death experience accounts in the Witnessing Heaven series. Though I've never doubted heaven, I rejoice in their totally believable, unimaginably beautiful experiences. They testify to God's promise:
“For God so loved the world,[a]that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16 (ESV)
Love, peace, joy, and grace in Christ,
PRAYER: LORD, please help me to persevere in seeking You through the dry spells, the silent times, the darkest quiet. You are the light and the life, Jesus. May I stay close to you in good times and bad. In Your Name I ask it. Amen.
TAKEAWAY TOOL: Journal about a time when God finally spoke into a time of silence. How was it dark? How was it light?
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