The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may follow all the words of this law- Deuteronomy 29:29 NIV
Okay. I’m going to get really real for just a minute and say the quiet part out loud.
Sometimes God feels distant. Really distant. Like radio silence distant.
This sensation can get emotionally and spiritually messy really quickly because we derive comfort, peace and security from knowing God sees our needs and hears our cries (Psalm 61:1-3, Psalm 28:2). Whether it’s through answered prayer, a Bible passage that speaks to our situation or a still small voice that guides us through the complexities of life, anyone who really loves God wants to hear from God (Psalm 63:1, John 10:27).
This is even more true when the going gets tough and life gets challenging, uncertain or just plain hard and sucky. Radio silence in these moments is beyond discouraging. It can challenge our belief God is good. (Psalm 13:1-6, Psalm 42:9, Psalm 43:2, Psalm 22:1). It just gets worse when we feel like we are doing our level best to keep the lines of communication open and still—nothing, zero, nada. That still small voice that guides and directs our steps is painfully quiet.
Nothing is gained and much is lost anytime we give into the very human temptation to give up our faith, get angry or place all of the blame on God in these moments, nor should we turn to sin or worldly ways of coping to fill our empty places, dull our pain or relieve our frustration in these seasons. The best thing we can do when we feel God is far away is to keep our hearts open and use our situation as the jumping off place for some self-examination and perhaps a change of approach. There are a whole bunch of really good reasons why we don’t feel the presence of God or hear His still small voice, some of those are:
We don’t want to-
Sometimes we think we want to hear from God but we don’t. Not really—mostly because deep down in our heart-of-hearts we have a niggling little hunch God might just have something to say to us we have zero interest in hearing. Most of us have been guilty at some point of desperately wanting to hear from God in one area of our lives while we entertain some ugly sin in another area of our lives. Truth-be-told God usually addresses the sin that’s holding back our spiritual growth before He blesses us with a clear direction or a deep sense of spiritual peace (Hebrews 12:1-2). It’s critical we remember no sin is worth stunting our spiritual growth over or shutting down communication with the God of the universe (Matthew 5:30, 1st Corinthians 15:34). It’s just not.
We do and we don’t like what he says-
Alas, we are all human, and sadly, one aspect of being human is an inclination towards moments of stupidity, willful blindness and obstinacy. Sometimes we do hear from God and we don’t like what He has to say so we ignore Him (Hebrews 12:25). Typically, what happens in these situations is God wants us to forgive someone we don’t want to forgive (Matthew 6:15, Ephesians 4:31, Hebrews 12:15), or He wants us to repair a relationship that would be personally embarrassing for us to deal with. Other times God wants us to look at our own actions in a situation where we have chosen to lay the blame on the actions or attitude of the other guy. Whatever the case may be, it is always in our best interests to ask God if there is something we’re just not seeing when He feels far off.
We’re just too dang busy-
Okay, so this is a big one, because we have made busyness into badge of honor, an indication of righteousness and a weird little idol. Busyness in none of those things. The Bible is clear, we are least likely to connect with God when we are spinning around in a flurry. Conversely, we are most likely to connect with Him when we slow down and seek Him in a spirit of quiet trust (Isaiah 30:15, Psalm 37:7, Psalm 46:10, Hebrews 4:1). Sometimes all we have to do to reconnect with God is take a day off from our striving and make Him our priority (Jeremiah 29:12-14).
We want to be in charge of how he communicates-
Most of the time God speaks through His word (the Bible) or in a still small voice that leaves an impression on our spirit that we should do or not do something (2nd Peter 1:3., 1st Kings 19:12). God rarely communicates verbally and when He speaks through other people it’s usually just them talking in a wise way that hits home in our situation (Matthew 10:20). It’s fairly rare for a person to get a bold prophetic proclamation that clears up all their confusion concerning a matter. As a general rule we should always look to the “normal ways” God communicates rather than expecting Him to be dramatic in His communication.
All that being said:
God is always with us even when we don’t feel His presence, hear His voice or understand what exactly is going on (Joshua 1:5, Psalm 91:3-4, Hebrews 13:5). He never leaves us or forsakes us. God is always moving us towards the end of being more like Jesus and sometimes the road there is a bumpy one where we feel alone even when we’re not (1st Corinthians 15:49, 2nd Corinthians 3:18, Colossians 3:10). In those times must remind ourselves that God’s love never fails and He never walks away.
Even when He’s quiet.