I’m not naturally good at silence. In fact, I tend towards the opposite end of that spectrum. I love to talk—to my friends, to God, to myself (don’t judge, you know you do it too). If I’m not talking, I’m often singing, playing music, or listening to a podcast.
Our culture has trained us to avoid silence at all costs. So what do we do when there is silence? What do we do when God is silent? It’s easy to say we trust God when everything is in place and when it all makes sense. But what about when we can’t see what He is doing? When we can’t hear Him speaking?
Right now, my sister and I are in a season of transition. She lost her job during the crazy of 2020 and has been feeling a call to move to Japan to share the gospel. The only problem is that God is staying quiet. She knows she is supposed to go, but she has no idea how she will get there, when she should leave, or what she should do in the meantime. As we wait in the silence, I’ve found myself signing a new lease to an apartment that I may not have a roommate for. In my weak moments, I’ve lashed out at her—“Why don’t you just move forward? Can’t you apply for this or that job? What are we going to do when your savings run out?” But as she has kindly reminded me, she can’t move until God tells her to move. She is choosing to trust God in the silence.
In moments like these, we all have a choice to make. We can choose to trust that God is in control and that He is working in the silence, or we can choose to take matters into our own hands. How do we choose trust instead of control? There’s no easy answer, but there are three action steps we can take when we can’t hear or see God in our situation.
First, respond to the silence.
You can be confident that God hasn’t left you. Silence often means that He is giving you an opportunity to grow in your ability to trust Him and to be faithful regardless of your feelings. Take the opportunity to respond.
At the beginning of 2020, I hit a dry spot in my devotional time. I didn’t feel like continuing to wake up every day to spend time in His Word, but I knew that it was important. Instead of giving up or feeling frustrated at the silence, I told God that I would continue to be consistent, and I asked Him to meet with me as I met with Him. Over time, I began to hear His voice again, seeing the scripture come to life in me, but it required intentionality.
Where is the opportunity to grow in the silence you’re experiencing right now? Second, remember the last time He spoke to you.
What did He last say? If He planted you in a job, stay there. If He asked you to serve or give, keep doing it. If He told you to wait, then wait. However long it takes, be faithful to what He has spoken to you. He meant it then, and He means it now. Trust that as you do what He asked you to do, He will keep carrying out His plans for your life.
Third, remind yourself of who God is.
Journal about the times that He has moved in your life in the past. What happened last time He was silent? If He came through for you then, won’t He come through for you now? The more that you remind yourself of God’s character, the more you’ll be able to trust that He won’t leave you in the silence. He will bring His work in you to completion (Philippians 1:4-6). Even if you can’t feel His presence, you can be confident that He will never leave you or forsake you (Joshua 1:5c, 9).
Whatever you may be facing right now, there is grace for the days when you have faith, and there is grace for the days that you don’t. None of us are perfect, and none of us like silence. But the more we grow in our relationship with God, the more we will realize that seasons of silence are an opportunity, not a punishment. They don’t come because He doesn’t love us, but because He is wanting to help us grow in our trust and love for Him. He’s always working in our lives, far more than we could ask, think, or imagine (Ephesians 3:18-20). With Him, the best is always yet to come—even when there is silence!