We all get to points in life where we seem to need more of God: more guidance, more wisdom, more direction, more help. We come to these places through tragedy, pain, transitions in life, or even day-to-day life.
Sooner or later, you will be at a place when God is silent. You will be crying out for help, desperately praying for direction, and not receiving anything in return (so it seems).
First, remember that you are not a bad Christian for feeling this way. Almost everyone, even in the Bible itself, has moments like this. Second, remember that God is always listening to his children, always seeing them (Psalm 34). Lastly, walk through these 5 things.
#1 – Read God’s Word
All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:16-17
God speaks to us most particularly, most powerfully, most clearly, through his word. We often want God to speak in ways he has never promised to speak. God never promises to give us a vision that tells us what job to take, how to remedy a specific circumstance (i.e. how do I parent a rebellious 16-year-old?), how to manage a painful situation, or who to marry.
In moments of stress or pain, we can fall into thinking that we need something “more” from God. More information, more of his presence, more words from Him. However, we need to remember that God is never silent because God’s word is sufficient.
It makes us equipped for every good work. It has promises that speak to our pain and promises that remind us that God is always good, always at work, always faithful to his people (Psalm 34, again). In moments of life when God is silent, open up his word, and be reminded that he has spoken truthfully, perfectly, clearly, and sufficiently.
We don’t need to have a special word from God that tells us all about exactly how to live our lives (a roadmap, if you will); we need a word from God about who he is, what he has done, and has promised to do. That’s what the Bible is. If you are in a valley of life, God’s promises, recorded in his word, will never be voided. It is never silent.
#2 – Ask For God’s Wisdom
If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. James 1:5
Far too often, this verse gets misused. The truth is that this verse is speaking of wisdom in the same way that Romans 12:2 speaks about knowing God’s will. The Reformation Study Bible explains wisdom as: “to know and understand godliness, to do what is pleasing to God.”
Why is this important? Because wisdom is not about deciphering the future. Wisdom is about living faithfully in the present!
How does God give us wisdom in this way? He indwells his people with the Holy Spirit. The very spirit of God is living in you. And the third person of the Trinity is constantly at work in you: teaching you, changing your desires to godly ones, convicting you, and growing you.
The truth is, your greatest need is not to know exactly how to handle a random issue, the greatest need is that you would have a mind that looks more like the mind of Christ.
When God shapes us to have that mind of Christ, then our decisions will be wise, they will be right. We will never have perfect wisdom this side of heaven, but we can trust that God grows his people, sanctifies them, and his people will have wisdom when they need it most.
Even when God is silent, he has given you wisdom and he even tells us that we can ask for more! Then, trust this wisdom, and make decisions that honor God and his word. In a horrible, heartbreaking situation, seek to honor God, and ask for biblical wisdom on how to proceed. You will not hear some magical, audible voice from heaven, but you do have the Holy Spirit of God constantly making the children of God wiser.
#3 – Trust God’s Guidance
Guidance is not something God gives as much as guidance is something God does. – Tim Keller
In difficult times of life, we often want God to give us a roadmap. We want a series of instructions, with specific times, so that we can be sure that we know what to do and when to do it. We often define that, and that alone, as “God’s guidance.”
But that’s not something God has ever promised to give. God’s guidance is much more about his total sovereignty working out in ordinary, everyday life than it is about Him giving us a special revelation of the future.
God’s guidance is through the mundane and ordinary. He guides us with job offers and new children; he guides us in break ups and new marriages. God guides us by putting us in difficult circumstances, so that he may grow us to be wiser (see number 2). If you are looking for God’s guidance, trust that he is at work at all times in the everyday circumstances of life.
So wake up tomorrow and seek to honor God. Be obedient. Concern yourself with what he has called you to (obedience), not what he is in charge of (the future). he will get you there. He will get you through whatever you are in right now. That is his guidance, and it is faithful.
#4 – Do Not Give Up Spiritual Disciplines
In times of God seeming silent, we need spiritual disciplines (read habits) more than ever. Do not stop reading the Bible just because words don’t seem to leap off the page.
Do not stop praying because your prayers feel like they bounce off the ceiling.
Do not stop worshiping God (privately or corporately on Sunday mornings) just because you haven’t had an emotional rush for a few weeks, or the preaching doesn’t “connect.”
Those are the means by which God has promised to shape and grow his children. Don’t give up on them! Pray that God would continue to work, and to open your eyes to see the glory of what he is doing through these spiritual habits.
Crucially, remember that God is glorified in your obedience, and your desire to commune with Him more deeply, even if you feel emotionally disconnected.
#5 – Act In Faith
Sometimes we still want the roadmap. We still want an agenda. In moments of pain, where we are crying out to God’s silence, we want Him to give us some golden tablets with the plan.
If he did that though, it would actually undermine faith! We wouldn’t need any faith at all! It takes no faith for me to follow Google Maps. I know it works, it tells me exactly what to expect along the way. I don’t have to exercise faith, I just follow directions that never make me uncomfortable and they never let me struggle.
When God Is Silent, He’s Not
God doesn’t give us a map, he gives us a compass. He gives us, above all, his word and his Spirit. Together, they guide us, even in times when he is silent. In moments of pain or confusion, remember that he is still watching over his children. Have faith that he is still at work, even if you don’t see exactly how he is working.
That’s often why God is silent, to grow this faith in us. So pray, read his word, trust his guidance, and remember that he never turns his back on his children.