When God is Silent

“The rain and snow come down from the heavens and stay on the ground to water the earth. They cause the grain to grow, producing seed for the farmer and bread for the hungry.”  Isaiah 55:10 (NLT)

It is difficult to understand why God is sometimes silent.  Our routine of daily prayer and bible reading, our weekly attendance at church, our desire to live our lives for His glory all continue unabated and yet God is silent.  Why?  It seems so contrary to His nature and His love for us as revealed in His Son.  Yes the heavens daily declare His glory and the earth shows forth His handiwork, we hear sermons and we read devotionals, all the while listening intently for His still small voice, but in the reverberation of it all, only silence.  Why?

One of the most beautiful metaphors in all of scripture, describing how God speaks, is found in the writings of Isaiah the prophet.  There God’s thoughts and words, proceeding from His mouth in heaven are likened to rain and snow that fall upon the earth.  (Isaiah 55:9-11) The earth, representing the soil of our hearts, immediately receives the rain and absorbs its nourishment.  We rejoice in hearing God’s words and anticipate with thankfulness the fruit that it will bear in our lives.

But what then when the seasons change?  A growing darkness encroaches upon our days, chilly winds blow in from the north and our cold hearts begin to long for the warm spring and summer rains.  But alas it is snow that starts to fall and as it blankets the soil of our hearts, it muffles the still small voice.  As a season of dormancy sets in, the snow with its life giving moisture is frozen in time and space.  God is silent.  It is as if God’s very thoughts and words are sealed in a myriad of intricately beautiful, quiescent crystals.

This picture of God’s voice coming to us in the form of snow affords us a glimpse into the mystery of His silence.  Contrary to our understanding of the human silent treatment, God’s silence has nothing to do with a cessation of His presence nor the suspension of His care.  The blanketing presence of His crystalline words, like an unopened love letter held next to ones heart, is an exquisite expression of the kind intention of His will.  His thoughts of us and words addressed to us, though yet unheard or uncomprehended are nonetheless already silently embracing us. 

The barrenness of winter in the soul makes it difficult to grasp that fact and we grope to believe that it is true.  Acknowledging that God is near and that He still cares, can help.  God’s silence enables us to listen to the whispers of our own heart, grow in faith and cultivate the virtue of waiting patiently upon the Lord.  But there is something more and it has to do with feeling His embrace. 

If you turn your face toward heaven and close your eyes, you can imagine purposely designed flakes of snow falling gently all around you.  These are His thoughts and His words sent from heaven just for you.  We can take comfort in knowing that in due season the spring sun and gentle breezes will once again warm the earth.  And the snow that has been silently embracing us will finally turn to rivulets of water, rushing to deliver its moisture and His message to the softening soil of our thirsty hearts. 

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