June 2, 2023
When God Seems Silent
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“Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.” Psalm 42:11 (ESV)
As minutes turned to hours of waiting in the emergency room, I desperately desired to hear from God. With excruciating pain radiating from my neck all the way down my arm, I prayed to God for relief and expected direction, encouragement, or any sign to let me know I wasn’t as alone as I felt.
Instead, I was met with silence.
Confused as to why God would choose now, of all times, not to respond — while I was in the hospital alone due to COVID-19 restrictions — I began to wonder if He was with me at all. The thought of rejection and abandonment pierced deeper than any physical wound I was experiencing at the time.
As a busy mom, I often crave quiet, but I’d argue there is no worse feeling than when it feels like the silence comes from God Himself.
What are we to do when we pray to God — especially when we’re in desperate need — and we’re met with silence? Do we conclude God didn’t hear us? Do we think He’s not there or, worse, He doesn’t care?
The writer of Psalm 42 knew what it’s like to cry out to God only to be greeted with silence. Yet instead of receiving God's silence as rejection, the writer continued to trust God and praise Him:
“Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God” (Psalm 42:11).
From this psalm, we learn three important ways to approach God when we feel He is silent.
- Keep seeking God.
Our natural reaction when we feel someone is giving us the cold shoulder is to draw away. Yet the writer of Psalm 42 did the opposite. He thirsted for God “as a deer pants for flowing streams” (Psalm 42:1, ESV). He did not stop calling on God. The psalmist shows us not to give up on seeking God, even when He feels distant, because He is the only true source that can satisfy our souls.
- Remember what God has done in the past.
Psalm 42:4 reveals a powerful, one-word key to seeking God when we feel like He is quiet: “Remember” (ESV). The psalmist remembered praising God in the house of the Lord, and although the psalmist was now far from the temple, he still remembered God. For us, God may feel quiet now, but if we allow our minds to remember the times He has spoken and moved in our lives, we’ll encourage our souls to know that God’s silence does not mean He’s not working.
- Place your hope in God.
The psalmist didn’t place his hope in his feelings or circumstances but in God. Despite what he felt, the writer told his soul what to do: “Hope in God …” (Psalm 42:11b). We serve a God who may feel silent but never fails to act on behalf of His children. So even when God gets uncomfortably quiet, we have hope that anchors us until we hear from Him again.
A hospital waiting room was the last place I expected silence from God. And while I was tempted to question His non-response, I’ve walked with Him long enough to know that although I could not understand His silence, I can always trust His character. He has a proven track record of rescuing me no matter what, and I chose to believe this situation would be no different.
As I look back, I may not have heard from God as I desired, but I can see now that He was with me — leading me to the doctors I needed and providing the care only He could provide during that painful season. The fact that I made it through at all is testimony enough that God never once left me. I learned, much like the writer of Psalm 42, that though God is sometimes silent, He is never absent.
Dear heavenly Father, thank You for never leaving my side and for walking with me through every season of my life. When I feel You’re quiet, please remind my soul You are never far away. I place my hope in You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
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FOR DEEPER STUDY
Psalm 18:6, “In my distress I called upon the LORD; to my God I cried for help. From his temple he heard my voice, and my cry to him reached his ears” (ESV).
Psalm 62:5, “For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from him” (ESV).
What can you remember about God to encourage your soul to hope in Him when He seems silent? We’d love to hear from you! Share your thoughts in the comments.
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