“I remain in the faith because I have tried all else and know without doubt it is real. I remain sick because I believe in a God that can, but will not. I remain tired because I believe in a God that can speak, but will not.”
This was a quote from message sent to me a few years ago from a man desiring to vent and coveting my prayers.
This is an issue much more common than you may realize. To have unwavering belief in God, but to feel completely removed from His presence. No answers to prayer, no guidance, no open doors, no healing, no happiness.
And yes, it can be frustrating. No, beyond that, it can be torturous. On the one hand, we KNOW God is capable of all things. How easy it should be for him to speak and change our lives for the better! But on the other hand, we know SO LITTLE about God, about His plans for our lives, about what He will do in the future with our present and past.
And so, a season arrives when we feel like God has abandoned us.
What are we to do when we feel this way? What are we to say to others who feel this way?
A.W. Tozer wrote, "God is said to be absolutely free because no one and no thing can hinder Him or compel Him or stop Him. He is able to do as He pleases always, everywhere, forever."
God is sovereign. For us to accept this means that we must accept that He knows what is best for us, what shall be most beneficial for us, for those we touch, and for His glory in the end.
When Job was left in the sorry state he was in, his wife told him to curse God and die. Job instead said this: "Shall we indeed accept good from God and not accept adversity?" (Job 2:10)
In Job 13:15, he says of God, "Though He slay me, I will hope in him."
We have to realize that God is in control. Even if he allows us to suffer, either because of our own wrongdoing or because of outside forces, He allows it. And the reasons can be many. It could be to prepare you for a worse tragedy on the way. It could be to help you realize you aren't relying on His strength and will enough. It could be to grow your character, your maturity, your endurance.
It's a cliché to say that "Everything happens for a purpose." That is also a misnomer. God is not willing that man should sin, so when someone is hurt by the sins of others, there is no purpose behind it. But God does GIVE purpose to everything. He doesn't waste a hurt. When something bad happens to us, or even if we do something wrong and have to pay for it, God will pull from it everything He can to teach us, to grow us, to give us wisdom moving forward.
Silence does not mean that God isn't moving. In fact, it may mean the exact opposite, that God is working toward something bigger than you can imagine.
When Mary and Martha told Jesus that Lazarus was dying, Jesus waited days before going to see them, and in that time, Lazarus died. Jesus did not arrive in time to heal him. Mary and Martha could have seen His inaction as Jesus not caring. But then, four days after Lazarus died, Jesus raised him from the dead! Jesus delayed moving in a small way in order to later move in a big way!
That silence can be seen as a sign of trust. When Satan wanted to torment someone to test their devotion to God, God SUGGESTED Job, but did not warn him. God trusted Job, and trusted him to remain faithful in His silence.
But say you're praying and asking for healing or help and God is not giving you the answer you want. Should you then be upset?
Of course not. God does not promise that everyone will be healed on Earth. God does not promise we will get all the desires of our heart. That doesn't necessarily mean you have a lack of faith or that you aren't living as righteous as you should be.
John Backman of Relevant Magazine wrote: "The yearning for wholeness is in our nature. God has asked us to cast our cares upon Him (1 Peter 5:7), and illness certainly qualifies. There’s no question about it: praying for healing is a good thing. The fact remains, though, that at times God chooses not to heal, for reasons we rarely understand in full. If that happens to us, and we can find a way to live into it, we might be gentler with ourselves when healing doesn’t come. We might bear more patiently with our own weaknesses and pay deeper attention to the will of God for our unique situation. Who knows? God may use our condition to make the world a better place. One thing is certain, however. Whether we are healed or not, we always, everywhere, have the sustaining presence of God to carry us when we can go no further. As Moses said (Deuteronomy 31:6), 'Do not be afraid or terrified … for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.' "
So, with all this being said, I realize that when I felt this way in the past, there was no reasoning with me for a while. I was angry at God and I was determined to stay angry until He did what I thought was the right thing.
I can say that many (I dare say nearly all) Christians go through a season of this at least once in their lives. And it almost always passes.
What can you do in the mean time? Continue to pray. Continue to listen. Continue to read your Bible. Do what you know you are supposed to. Do what you know will be beneficial to your faith. And try to be patient.
In the end, it's possible that nothing I've written here will change your mindset. You may be just as distraught and angry as you were before. If that is the case, or even if it's not, know that I am praying for you.
And I rest in the fact that I know God is both moving and speaking in your life, even if you can't see or hear it right now.
But you will, my Anonymous friend. Job made it out of his myriad of struggles. You will too.
Your cries – “God hasn't spoken,” “God hasn't moved” - are missing one key word...