This past week, I spent a couple of tearful days lamenting the feeling that God was nowhere to be found. I reached for Him but couldn’t find Him. I cried out to Him, but He didn’t answer me. Had I done something to make Him turn away? Had He lost interest in me as a fixer-upper and moved on to more promising prospects? I shook my head and started to berate myself for my lack of faith. Dry times don’t mean God is gone, I told myself. Even when the Lord is silent, He is still very much with us no matter how we feel at the time. Later, I came across an old sermon from Charles Spurgeon about Good Friday that really put things into perspective for me. For the born-again believer in Christ, when God is silent, it’s not forever.
I Checked My Journals
It started Thursday morning. I was feeling particularly vulnerable. Despite continuing everything I knew to do in prayer, Bible reading, church attendance, and private worship, I felt a distinct lack of interaction from the Lord. I went back to my journals where I have recorded my relationship with Him. He saved me in 2012, and I started writing journals in 2014.
Since then, I have written down the times when He has spoken to me, given me dreams, highlighted scriptures, or used me. I also recorded the times when I was feeling particularly joyful and had victories as well as the times when I was feeling sad and experienced those spiritual defeats and corrections that are all a part of the Christian walk. It has helped me to process. Plus, I like to look back at the dates to see my progress and remember that even when there are days or even weeks between His visits, God doesn’t leave me alone for long.
I Missed Attention From My Father
I read the first page of each of my first two journals, and they both said basically the same thing. It seems that I had excitedly asked the Lord to show me something of Himself. He obliged by highlighting words in scripture that were confirmed in some other way in my life. I looked at the dates and saw that I was (spiritually) two and four at the time. I imagined myself as a little child, crawling up into my Father’s lap, snuggling in, and hearing His heartbeat for me at those times in my life.
Then I thought of my life now as an almost eleven-year-old. I have more responsibilities now. The Lord has taken away many of the “childish things” that marked my early years as a Christian. Tears poured from my eyes as I asked Him if I couldn’t just once more climb into His lap for comfort. I needed attention and wasn’t yet too big for a “hug” from my Father.
A Hug-less Thursday and a Very Good Friday
No hugs were forthcoming that Thursday, so my eyes were again watery on Friday morning as I set out on the forty-minute drive to meet my dad for lunch. It was Good Friday, so I was off work. I was trying very hard to be a “big girl,” so I went through the scriptures reminding myself that God loved me and promised to never leave me. I live in a big metroplex, and there are six Christian radio stations that I flip back and forth between.
As I drove, it seemed like many of the songs were encouraging, and at one point, the DJ came on and gave a 10-second message that felt like it was speaking directly to me. He said that God loved me before and He still loves me now. The way I was feeling today won’t last forever, so I shouldn’t feel discouraged or in despair. Wow! There was my hug!
The Implications of Good Friday
I praised God for His kindness and attention to me, but later the implications of the day really hit me. It was, after all, Good Friday. It’s the day we recognize Jesus’ crucifixion and remember His words on the cross. “My God, My God, why has thou forsaken me?” Certainly, Jesus wasn’t forsaken by God, and neither was I. God had turned His face away but for a moment.
I read a commentary from Benson that made a good point. Many martyrs for the name of Christ are said to have experienced the presence of God in their last moments to comfort them, but not so for Jesus. “For had God communicated to his Son on the cross those strong consolations which He has given to some of the martyrs in their tortures, all sense of pain, and consequently all real pain, would have been swallowed up; and the violence done to His body, not affecting the soul, could not properly have been called suffering.”
As Christians, we can endure just about anything in this life if we have the Lord with us comforting and encouraging us along the way. Only His “absence” can create true suffering. But the Bible told us that at some point and sometimes, we would have to join Him there. Philippians 3:10 says, “That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death.” And 2 Timothy 2:12 says, “If we suffer, we shall also reign with him: if we deny him, he also will deny us.”
Charles Spurgeon’s Take on When God Is Silent
Later as I was looking up information on Good Friday to make a post on Facebook, I came across an article about a sermon from Charles Spurgeon that really, really helped me. It was entitled “When Good Friday Lasts More Than a Day.”
In the sermon, he started with the idea that all believers will experience seasons like Jesus’ time on the cross. Times when God seems far away and out of reach. He said, “We shouldn’t assume that coldness of feeling is necessarily a punishment or the result of our own hearts growing cold.” Instead, we may just be experiencing a temporary exile from the Lord for His purposes. But here is the part from the article that really helped me feel a lot better.
“’When Jesus is absent from a true heir of heaven, sorrow will ensue. The healthier a person’s condition, the sooner that absence will be perceived and the more deeply it will be mourned.’ It’s okay to cry out, even to weep, to lament the sweet sense of comfort that you have drawn from walking intimately with your Lord. To mourn this loss is not a betrayal of faith, but rather an exclamation of how precious your faith really is to you.”
When God is Silent, It’s Not Forever
For the true believer in Christ, there are times when God will withdraw Himself from our conscious feelings. It isn’t necessarily because we have done something wrong, and it isn’t a lack of faith to feel sorrow in His absence. And when He at once comes back into our thoughts and we feel Him yet again, how much sweeter those times are to us.
Looking back to Jesus’ time on the cross and the Messianic Psalm 22, we recognize (to a much lesser extent) His cry. We can have compassion FOR Him and a greater connection TO Him. We can also reflect that the pain of Good Friday was dimly remembered in the joy of Resurrection Sunday. When God is silent, it’s not forever. Whatever sorrow we feel in this life is but for a moment, but the joy of an eternity with our Lord will be beyond compare.
Like encouraging articles? Try When You Don’t Feel the Comforter. Or Suffering as a Christian: 3 Things We Can Do. Please sign up to receive my blog in your email inbox. You can find that at the upper right of your screen (or at the bottom on a phone). Also, check out my YouTube Channel where I read the blogs out loud. I also have a playlist of hymns from my church.