What to do?

Grace 101

What do you do when God is silent?

Yes, I think there are times when God is silent.  I really don’t think that happens often, but I think it does happen.  So let me put in my caveat first and then talk about God’s silence.

You see, most of the time God is not silent.  We are just not listening.  I wrote about that before.  Sometimes we just need to shut up and listen.  We go to Him with our problems and dump the load on Him, almost as though we expect Him to jump at our command.  In those times, His silence is our own fault.

And sometimes we try to paint God into a corner.  He has to solve our problem in a certain way.  Anything else would be unacceptable or unrecognized.  Maybe healing is what we want, but healing isn’t the only good option.  Maybe that new job or new love seems the best to us, but there is a better one out there.  By telling God what He must do, we set ourselves up for missing His answer.

But there are those times when we pray in submission and come to Him in quietness and we still hear nothing.  In those times we are to wait.  Trust that something is happening.

Sometimes children come to their parents in tears, maybe even screaming, and parents are supposed to help.  But, in order to help, the child has to stop screaming, stop hyperventilating, and simply calm down.  We tell them to “take a deep breath,” and we do nothing until they are ready to receive.  There is great value in that deep breath.  The world gets crazy.  Evil and danger press in, trying to overwhelm us.  Yet, it rarely is what we see; and taking a deep breath, pausing to settle our hearts, changes our perspective.

So, when God is silent, take a deep breath.  Calm your heart.  Yes, there is danger and you are worried.  Yes, you are upset.  Yes, you feel that you need an answer right away.  But you won’t be ready to hear until you settle into the rest He has already given you.

Then you may begin to understand that He has already given you the answer.  You haven’t been able to hear Him because you haven’t accepted the answer He has given.

Or you may see that your request is misguided.  Not wrong.  He knows your heart and your fears.  He understands what you ask, but His best is something different.

And maybe you will see that your heart has been wrong.  You have forgotten that He is God, wise and strong and wonderful.  The best thing that can happen is for you to step back and stop demanding your way.

In all of these, God may simply wait.  Your stress and confusion are stopping you from hearing Him or accepting His answer.  So He waits for you.  In fact, when you don’t hear from Him, ask Him if He is waiting for you.

The point in all of this is that grace allows us to find peace when God is silent.  Trust in His love and His power.  Trust in His wisdom and authority.  Trust that He is able to do what is needed and wise enough to know what is needed.  Believe that He hears your prayer and loves you.  Then rest.

No, it isn’t easy.  The craziness pushes and threatens.  But ask Him for peace, even though you don’t yet have your answer or your miracle.

Ask Him to help you rest in Him.

30 Comments

Filed under Grace 101, Relationship

30 responses to “What to do?

  1. Jean

    Thank you, Dave. I can add a hearty Amen to your post!
    It seems some of my looking and listening for God’s answers, if I am truly honest, is wanting Him to resolve a situation or change someone else to my liking. Recently I did not know how to proceed in a troubling situation, so I asked that He give me a clear path to walk. Since He did not open a clear path I had to wait and find out He had something else in mind. Some of my expectations and actions have only led to frustration and fear. It’s easy to forget that this life is one of transformation and our Heavenly Father knows best.

    • UnForsaken

      Jean, so true. I’m always needing to ask Him for His trust too. Being weak physically (esp. this week with the flu) forced the realization on me that there is really nothing we do as humans were we don’t need God’s strength. But when I’m feeling fine it’s hard to believe and just rest.

    • joni iamwaiting

      jean so true i have been going between faith and frustration and acceptance.

  2. Renay

    Pastor Dave, I feel like you were writing to me personally with that one. I recently told you of my dilemma, and I know with all of my heart that God has put me on a path where I will find the peace and happiness I am looking for. Since you last responded to me I have let go of the obsessing and wondering of why the narcissist in my life discarded me with such ease. I feel a weight has been lifted from my shoulders. I cannot wonder why he didn’t love me enough, I’ll never get that answer, but I know God loves me enough by showing me what he really was. In quoting Garth Brooks, “Thank God for unanswered prayers.” All I did was pray to God for the past year that this guy would be the one. God knew he was wrong for me and saved me from a destructive relationship. This experience has shown me God wants me to be happy and will guide me there if I listen!
    I thank you again for your words last week. I finally understand the power I was giving to someone so toxic, and have taken it back. Your words got me there.

  3. joni iamwaiting

    this has been extremely helpful. i have been on a waiting sabbatical for almost a year. I have been going to school and i need to still finish some stuff i want to just finish internship to graduate and take a test again to get certified. It has come to a screeching halt. I have spent the year struggling and i thought that i had the rest i needed. It has been revealed to me that i am still worn out from school and this is a revelation from God through a song. Now my life is at a standstill while i try to rest, trust and in the mean time i am be tested as well due to financial difficulties are happening and i can’t do anything about it but rest and wait. i think what you said was right and i get that we don’t hear god and we act like a toddler to get what we want from God. i see that now but we just dont understand it either. i spend part of the year working a temporary job and forgiving myself with god’s help. Part of the year he spoke and for the most part he didn’t which was really difficult to know what to do next. Right all doors are closed so i am resting in God and waiting for the sign. i am trying getting in the word more to see what God says through the word. Isaiah 30:15-18 has been my year theme verse through the year plus any verses on waiting plus listening the plumb song i need you now and now tenth avenue north worn song too.
    i just didnt realize how worn and torn i had gotten from going to school at the age of 48. so here l am waiting to hear God to move at the right time. i am not moving until he says so.

  4. David1

    Joni, all I can say is everyone on this board is pulling for you. Me personally, I am proud of you for finding the strength to go back to school and do whatever it takes to make a better life for yourself. Very few have the ability to do that, but you do. That makes you special. You are not alone. Share with us. We listen, we EMPATHIZE , we try to understand. You are going to be OK. Just hang in there. Believe me when I tell you, I am right where you are in my life and we are going to be OK.

  5. Just Bob

    Dear Joni,
    I’m not a theologian of counselor. But I have seen your behavior in my own life. At 66, I have you by a few years of experience and consequences.
    The constant message throughout your threads is that you are worn out and need rest. What makes this so difficult to accept? Do you think God (or others) will think less of you if you have to make some course corrections? Is a heart attack or nervous breakdown worth the frenetic pace you have imposed upon yourself? What if everything went your way and you were too sick or depressed to enjoy it? What if you become so debilitated to be of little earthly use to God or those around you?
    A pastor I know once said, “God does not substitute miracles for human responsibilities.” Consider the story of Elijah in the 18th and 19th chapters of 1 Kings. After his victory (in the name of the Lord) over the prophets of Baal, he suddenly found himself fleeing for his life, then asking God to take his life. He was physically, mentally and spiritually exhausted.
    In chapter 19: 7-8, is says, “An angel came to him and said Arise and eat, because the journey is too great for you.” So he arose, and ate and drank; and he went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights as far as Horeb, the mountain of God.
    With all you have mentioned, you appear way too deep in the tyranny of the urgent. Take some time off. Get some rest and perspective (I did just that last month during a 4-day personal retreat in the Blue Ridge mountains.) Don’t let society dictate an acceptance level that is either beyond or unimportant to His priorities for you.
    Work to finish your degree in a reasonable schedule. Don’t let age become an encumbrance or an excuse. Adjust your pace to fit the trend of circumstances. Pray for perspective and clarity in decision making. Expect God to work though you with what you already know has to be done.
    Finally, turn to the obituary section of today’s newspaper. If you’re not there, its going to be a great day!
    Grace to you. Bob

  6. joni iamwaiting

    Thanks Bob i always welcome other perspective

  7. joni iamwaiting

    i have been told waiting is doing nothing. i have been waiting to hear God but he has been silent. i thought i needed to re-evualate my stance so i started reading about the dark night like John of Cross was speaking about so i have been waiting, praying and seeking. i still hear nothing so i keep praying and still nothing. My husband and my bestie strongly encouraged me to look in work in other fields while i wait. This scream at my heart to implied my schooling and debt i acquired while going to school not to mention my exhaustion was all in vain. this really made me angry to think that God upset my apple cart to look for work in other fields. Why? It was strongly encouraged for me to look for the open door. to me this is a distraction and unreasonable requests. I am frustrated and keep praying what do you want from me? it is hard to believe less than 3 months ago i heard from God now i hear nothing but go look for a job. Money wont fall from the sky and i am trying stand strong to believe in faith what is wrong with that? help I am waiting.

  8. Just Bob

    Suggest you read “Disappointment with God” by Philip Yancey

  9. UnForsaken

    Dear Joni iamwaiting, don’t know your situation or what God directly want You to do, but sometimes He does ask us to wait a very long time. I’ve been waiting on some really big answers for ten years. This thing is really between you and God…just take one little step at a time. Part of becoming what He wants you to be is giving Him all our questions and being willing to go or wait , however long it takes . It’s no good either way, Unless it’s His way for You.

    That book sounds great, Just Bob. Maybe I’m odd though, because people- including myself- have mostly disappointed me! And life. I always need the reminder to look at everything from His timeless perspective though….Irony. Thanks for the recommendation!!!

    • Just Bob

      Dear joni iamwaiting and UnForsaken,
      In Disappointment with God, Philip Yancey poses three questions that Christians wonder but seldom ask aloud: Is God unfair? Is he silent? Is he hidden? This insightful and deeply personal book points to the odd disparity between our concept of God and the realities of life.

      Bob

  10. Just Bob

    Joni and UnForsaken,

    “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” – Hebrews 11:1 (NKJV).

    Joni, I suggest focusing on cultivating a simple routine without falling victim to paralysis by analysis. Take inventory of your skill sets; you probably have more than you realize. Maybe some are more useful than a degree could afford you. Perhaps you need to defer searching for doors, find a job, pay down debt and trust that God will reward you as you move forward.

    In addition, go to the pediatric oncology (or geriatric) unit of a local hospital and read to them. When it comes to the unfairness or anger we feel in our own lives, it’s all about perspective.

    Remember that with God, it’s all about the process or journey, not the end result or destination.

    Finally, in my own life, I have experienced something I call the serendipity power of God’s grace. It’s a lot like traveling down a boring road, only to round a bend and come upon a brilliant sunset or mountain landscape that takes your breath away. In other words, just when you least expect it, God shows up with the Ah-Ha moment.

    Unforsaken,
    The book was published in 1988 and is readily available. Keep me posted on what you learn.

    Merry Christmas and God’s Grace to you both in the coming New Year.

    Bob

  11. joni iamwaiting

    i am still struggling with the silence and waiting concept. i am frustrated because there is no pat answers and no one can help with this concept. i am struggling with overthinking then something doesnt happen it is my emotions. I am not sure what Isaiah 30:18 and there is an exodus verse that God will fight for you but you must remain quiet. what does the term quiet mean to do nothing or silent as the tomb. i am trying get into to the word but it is a struggle too. i think i am missing the boat and i am my own worse enemy at this point in time. sos help i am sinking

  12. prodigalkatherine

    You are not alone in your pain. I am praying for you as I am sure countless others who see this message are praying.

    God brings different “closure” to different situations because He has a perfect understanding of all the souls involved in each situation. In His perfect way, He brings healing to those who seek it and allows the seeds of justice (in the form of negative consequences) for those who defiantly turn their backs on God to pursue their own self interest.

    “To wait” means simply to commit to not acting impulsively from a place of deep pain. God asks us to do this so the already complicated situation does not become even more toxic and difficult to unravel. When I was where you were the words that kept echoing in my head were, “In your anger, do not sin.”

    That doesn’t mean that God asks you to remain a passive victim. Rather, you are called to bring your deep grief to Him and Him alone until the intensity of it passes. This way you will not act recklessly from a place of pain and if God’s best is for the relationship to be healed and restored, further damage will not occur. Waiting is not about “taking a number” while your suffering goes unnoticed. Waiting is about catching your breath as you absorb the impact of a devastating loss.

    To remain quiet is simply to say, “Oh God- I am too broken to act, to respond. Please, in your mercy, bring me to a place of peace that will help me respond to this incomprehensible insult in a way that is both loving and just.” It is to acknowledge that you are “bleeding” and that your heart wound must be examined, cleaned and dressed before facing the one who has wounded you.

    Do not doubt the value of a period of rest and withdrawal. Jesus regularly retreated into the desert to be spiritually replenished when he had been drained by the process of ministry. If you have been involved with a narcissist there is no doubt that you have also been drained.

    Peace, my friend. I promise the pain won’t always be so bad. Try to breathe deeply and ask Jesus to heal your heart. Try to block out the one that hurt you and focus on the healing energy of a loving God who saw everything that happened. He is your witness and your defender. If there is vengeance that needs to be brought, be confident in the fact it will be handled. That’s not your job. Your job is to simply turn to Jesus and rest.

    (I tell you this because this is the way that I began to heal.)

    • Joniamwaiting

      I am aaiting to move on after three years of school. It appears i dont get the waiting concept.

      • Joniamwaiting

        Just found out today been doing it wrong last few months. Thats rough with tears:'(

      • prodigalkatherine

        tell us more…

      • UnForsaken

        Joniamwaiting, those tears are healing. I’ve been waiting so long for some things it is easy to shrug, to be content but also like it will never happen. Tears show an open heart to hearing His Will. You may feel even more broken during this time because of the tears, but He is just opening your heart. Keep listening and He will also give you Joy.

        Loved everyones replies here. There are so many stages of waiting and some of us have experienced afew that make us feel even more lost in our search, although we are really getting closer to the truth. Keep holding on, Joniamwaithing !!!!

  13. Just Bob

    What have you learned?

    • Joniamwaiting

      Learned my mind goes in over drive during crisis mode but heart is slower. Isaiah 30:15-18 been my verse for last year now starting year 2. waiting there are no set rules or guidelines is a guessing game trying to find which door is hope. Kills my heart to get hope then get no. Just confused dont know what i am doing, frustrated.

      • prodigalkatherine

        perhaps the hope was not for nothing. It kept your heart receptive and kind when the pain was its most overwhelming. Now that you have had some time to adjust, the full reality comes.

        I know it is excruciating, but it won’t always hurt so much. Ask Jesus to be present in your suffering and I promise you, you will make it to the other side.

        -one who has been there. hugs.

    • joniiamwaiting

      it takes a long time for what ever is supposed to be accomplished

  14. joniiamwaiting

    here i am again being reminded that i am still waiting again still not sure what i am waiting for but by what i have been reading and hearing it is some sort of breakthrough i am not aware. i am still struggling with this stuff.

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