The LORD said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the LORD, for the LORD is about to pass by.” Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire.
(1 Kings 19:11-12
Silence! Sometimes silence speaks louder than words. Sometimes silence is extremely awkward. Sometimes silence is welcomed, especially after the grandkids leave after a 2 day visit. Sometimes silence is painful, as when someone goes home, alone, after a funeral or divorce proceeding. But the most painful silence of all is when it seems, at least to us, that God and heaven are silent to our prayers and our needs.
It is not only painful, but as we see in the story of Job, it is often frustrating when God not only seems to be silent, but actually is silent. We don’t like it when God is silent and demand that God speak and speak right now. But God doesn’t always speak out. He chooses a time of silence. So, how do we deal with and respond to those times when God and heaven are silent?
Elijah had remained faithful to God even though many of his fellow Israelites have turned to worshiping empty, dead gods. Then comes the great victory at Mt. Carmel where Elijah challenged the priests of Baal to a contest. Prepare a sacrifice, one for Baal and one for the Lord God of All. The God who answered by fire would be the God of everyone. And we know that God answered Elijah’s prayer.
But then comes the threat from Jezebel: “I will make you like one of my priests of Baal, dead as a door nail!” Elijah, the man of courage and conviction at Mt. Carmel, becomes Elijah, a man filled with fear. He runs away and wishes to die. Yet God lets Elijah know that He, God, is not finished with him. He goes to Mt. Horeb, anticipating a meeting and a word from God. But when he arrives, something is wrong, or so it seems to the normal eye.
The Lord was not in the wind, not in the earthquake, and not in the fire. In other words, God was silent. In all of the normally expected ways that God spoke in that day, He chose to remain silent; not a word of confirmation of His awesome presence in any shape, fashion or form. If I had been Elijah I would have demanded: “OK, God, you called this meeting. You wanted to talk and I needed to hear and talk. What’s all this silence about?”
Truth is, that God uses those times for silence for something far bigger and much better for us, even when we cannot see how His silence helps us. I believe there are certain specific things that God teaches us individually in these times of silence. God will reveal principles and truths that relate directly and specifically to us and where we are in life at that particular moment. It depends on the situation what God is trying to teach us. However, there is at least one principle that applies to us all; a single overriding truth that fits us all. The fact is that the time of silence is the best way to discover the power and strength that wells up inside us during the times of silence.
Here is the principle: God is trustworthy! God does not have to move, or speak or do anything to prove that He and He alone can be trusted. When we are silent, usually, but not always, it means we are not doing anything. This is not true with God. Because God can be trusted, His silence does not mean is not that He is not working on our behalf. Truth is, God is hard at work for us, even when we can’t see or hear him; ESPECIALLY when we can’t see or hear God.
And even though God and heaven is silent, it never means that God has forgotten us. And, it NEVER, EVER, EVER means that God has turned His back to us. Remember the principle: God can be trusted! How can we be this confident that God hasn’t turned His back on us, even in the times of silence? The answer is clearly simple: because of the Cross!