Run no. 24 – God, saying nothing, speaks

silence of god

Distance: 4.53 miles   Time: 41’02”

When I’m out running often God speaks. He might remind me of something, show me a metaphor or an analogy to inspire and encourage my faith, spark off a train of thought that takes me somewhere in God I’ve never yet been.

But sometimes God says nothing.

What do we do in those silent times?

Does God not care about us anymore?

God’s silences can be very painful, particularly when they occur in moments of crisis, times when we are desperate for God’s help and presence, and yet it seems that He is absent.

It’s enough to drive a man crazy, it’ll break a man’s faith

It’s enough to make him wonder, if he’s ever been sane

When he’s bleating for comfort from Thy staff and Thy rod

And the Heaven’s only answer is the silence of God[1]

We see a lot of this pain and anguish expressed in the Bible;

How long, LORD, must I call for help, but you do not listen?

Or cry out to you, “Violence!” but you do not save?[2]

There is a mystery in this.

There have been many attempts to explain why God is sometimes silent.

The silence of God creates a space for our faith to be strengthened.

The silence of God increases our sense of desire for God in the way that all deprivation draws out desire.

Yes, pine for thy God, fainting soul! ever pine;

Oh languish mid all that life brings thee of mirth;

Famished, thirsty, and restless — let such life be thine—

For what sight is to heaven, desire is to earth.[3]

Perhaps the most significant aspect of God’s silence is that it forces us to choose whether we will continue to love, to serve, and to obey God, even when it brings us no benefit.

C.S. Lewis imagined two devils discussing this;

Be not deceived, Wormwood,

our cause is never more in jeopardy than when a human,

no longer desiring but still intending to do our Enemy’s will,

looks round upon a universe in which every trace of him seems to have vanished,

and asks why he has been forsaken,

and still obeys.[4]

This kind of serious, grown-up, engaged, self-decentring faith is evidence that we are making progress in God, that we are finally ‘getting it’, that our souls are starting to take the shape that God desires for them, and that we are becoming spiritual vital beings.

Only the space God creates in our lives through His silence, enables us to grow and mature into this.

There has been a cultural icon in movies of the ‘strong and silent’ hero.

God wants us to be ‘strong in silence’.

So God, saying nothing, speaks.

[1] Andrew Peterson, The Silence of God from the album Love and Thunder

[2] Habakkuk 1:2 NIV

[3] Fredrick William Faber, ‘The Desire of God’

[4] C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters