When God is silent

Cover of "Reaching for the Invisible God&...

Cover of Reaching for the Invisible God

I have long appreciated Philip Yancey for his honesty and transparency in writing about his journey with God. This excerpt comes from his book Reaching for the Invisible God. I have experienced firsthand what he describes and wish someone had told me of it back when I first started to journey with God. This was a great encouragement to me. I hope it is the same for you or someone you know. 

We need look no further than the Bible for examples of God’s absence. “You have hidden your face from us,” said Isaiah. “Why are you like a stranger in the land, like a traveler who stays only a night?” demanded Jeremiah. Any relationship involves times of closeness and times of distance, and in a relationship with God, no matter how intimate, the pendulum will swing from one side to the other. 

I experienced the sense of abandonment just as I was making progress spiritually, advancing beyond childish faith to the point where I felt I could help others. Suddenly, the darkness descended. For an entire year, my prayers seemed to go nowhere; I had no confidence that God was listening. No one had prepared me with “the ministry of absence.” I found myself turning for comfort to poets like George Herbert, frank about his times of spiritual desolation. 

My prayers too seemed lost. When no “techniques” or spiritual disciplines seemed to work for me, in desperation I bought a book of hours used in high-church liturgy. Throughout that year I simply read the prayers and Bible passages, offering them to God as my prayers. “I have no words of my own,” I told God. “Maybe I have no faith. Please accept these prayers of others as the only ones I can offer right now. Accept their words in place of my own.” 

I now look back on that period of absence as an important growth time, for in some ways I had pursued God more earnestly than ever before. I came away with renewed faith and an appreciation of God’s presence as gift rather than entitlement. 

If you have that sense of God’s presence with you today – rejoice and keep walking! If you don’t have that sense of God’s presence right now, it’s OK – rejoice and keep walking anyway! 

Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. ~ Hebrews 11:1 (NASB) 

2 Comments

Filed under Authenticity, Encouragement, Faith, intimacy with the Lord, Prayer

2 responses to “When God is silent

  1. Thanks, Rick. The message helps.

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