What to Do When God is Silent

Silence can be deafening when you have a lot of questions. When we are going through a dark valley in our life, we can have many questions for God, such as: why are you allowing this in my life?; what are you trying to accomplish in my life through this?; why do you feel so distant from me when I need your presence the most? When we are in the middle of difficulty and darkness, it can feel like questions are our only companions.

If this is where you are now in your life, you’ll likely identify with Job’s words in 23:3:

Job 23:3–5 (ESV) — 3 Oh, that I knew where I might find (God), that I might come even to his seat! 4 I would lay my case before him and fill my mouth with arguments. 5 I would know what he would answer me and understand what he would say to me.

What should we do when we have many questions, but God seems silent?

  1. Trust that God knows your heart. Job says this in 23:10, where he says, “He knows the way that I take; when He has tried me, I shall come out as gold.” Even if everyone else misunderstands or mischaracterizes you, God sees our heart. If God is silent, it does not mean that He cannot see.
  2. Live according to His Word. Someone has said that if you want to hear God speak, then read the Bible; and if you want to hear God speak audibly, then read the Bible out loud. While you wait to sense the voice of God in your life, don’t miss this important fact — God has spoken — He has spoken authoritatively, sufficiently, infallibly, and personally — through the Bible. In times when it seems God is silent or far off in your spiritual life, redouble your efforts to spend time reading God’s Word, even if your reading of it seems fruitless. This is what Job is saying in 23:11-12: 11 My foot has held fast to his steps; I have kept his way and have not turned aside. 12 I have not departed from the commandment of his lips; I have treasured the words of his mouth more than my portion of food.
  3. Trust in the sovereignty of God. We struggle in our faith when God is silent because we fear that it means that God is not in control of the situation. But God’s purposes and plans cannot be defeated — not His grand plans for humanity and the universe; and not His seemingly small plans for our seemingly insignificant lives. The least of us are of great value to God. (Luke 12:6-7) To this end we can say with Job: 13 But he is unchangeable, and who can turn him back? What he desires, that he does. 14 For he will complete what he appoints for me, and many such things are in his mind. (Job 23:13–14 ESV)

If we will cling to these three stones, the darkness of a present situation will not wash us away. We will say with Job: 16 God has made my heart faint; the Almighty has terrified me; 17 yet I am not silenced because of the darkness, nor because thick darkness covers my face. (Job 23:16–17 ESV)