Thoughts on God’s silence.
This is the second part of a two-part entry on God’s silence. For a more philosophical take on the problem, see the first entry below.
Even though God’s silence is for our benefit, that doesn’t make it easy to bear. At times, I yearn for deeper communion with God. Surely, this desire for God helps me avoid temptation as I seek Him instead of other things, but a desire to sin could easily be extinguished by the awesome power of being held by the sustainer of the universe. I can imagine that God’s lack of felt presence at times occurs specifically because God wants me to pursue Him instead of money, power, or other things; that if God were to constantly overwhelm me with His presence, at a given stage in my life I might start to move elsewhere–away from Him. In this respect I thank God for keeping my thirst for Him strong. In the times my own desire for Him would be weak of my own accord, He keeps it strong due to His great mercy and wisdom–and this can only be responded to in gratitude.
Still, it takes thought to move from despair from a lack of felt presence by God to gratitude. In our busy world, I think this can be especially hard. Despite our deepest desires to the contrary, at times we don’t find time to slip away and meet with God. Though it can be hard at first, I’ve found it’s always worth it. I’ve downgraded phones from an iPhone 3GS to a very old Samsung, and all I use my phone for anymore is to call my friends and family, and call and text my wife. More in the dark, at this new place I’m living I don’t even have TV. However, I couldn’t do without the internet: I enjoy the rich interpersonal relationships (via forums and blogs) that it is able to accommodate. Nevertheless, I’m considerably dated with respect to my phone and my TV accessibility. The decisions to go without these things weren’t entirely made by choice–finances played a role–but now that I’ve made them, I’m not sure that I want to go back. Life is different at this slower pace. Life doesn’t get as busy as it used to. I’m able to stop and enjoy the little things again. Because of this, when God is silent, I can listen closer. His whispers don’t get lost in the fuzz of electronic white noise that used to fill my days. There are probably a variety of reasons that He can be distant, but I now have time to do some searching when He is.
I’ve always found that when God feels distant, taking some silent time to contemplate Him usually brings Him closer–taking a walk on an unbeaten path while adoring God’s magnificent, creative imagination in thinking up the things that He made; reflecting on the beauty of God while bathing in the sun; listening to the song of birds singing and dwelling on the fact that God cares deeply for each one of them joining in the chorus, and much more so for us; and especially prayerfully meditating on a verse from His Word typically brings me right back in to His caring arms. I’d imagine that this is because I’ve sought God in the silence; this is because when he’s spoken softly, I’ve quieted down to listen; this is because I’ve met God where He was waiting for me all along–and where I wanted to be with Him most, too–: in our own, private encounter.