Silence is, for me and I think many people, one of the most painful things to endure. Someone once said that ‘spiteful words can hurt your feelings, but silence breaks your heart.’ There’s something about silence that can get under your skin, make you feel uncomfortable and hurt. I’m not talking here about sitting quietly for half an hour, or about those awkward silences we all know.
I’m talking about emotional silence. Relationship silence. God’s silence. For me, it seems like a lot of the time, God is silent. He talks to other people, and I see Him communicating with other people, and that’s amazing. But for me, more often than not, God is silent.
This is something I really struggle with. It’s hard trying to have a relationship with God when He’s so silent. I look in the Bible and see Him talking to people, and I look around people I know, and see Him talking to them. But with me, it’s painfully silent.
I’ve spent many hours trying to work out why this is so. Is there a reason why God is so uncommunicative around me? Perhaps it’s something I said – an angry prayer, a sin. But I can’t find a reason. And the reason I can’t find a reason is that I don’t think there is one.
I think it’s just God’s way. That’s how He works with me. And I think, perhaps more than anything, God is there in the silence. I just don’t see Him. It’s a bit like the way in which, when you’re hurting, you just want those close to you to sit with you and just be. There’s a time for conversation, but then there’s a time for silence. It’s the presence of the person there with me that comforts me more than anything else.
So maybe that’s what it’s like with God. He’s just being there with me. He doesn’t need to speak to me. He doesn’t need to tell me it will be ok. He’s just there with me.
Granted, a lot of the time, I don’t feel that. I feel abandoned, lost and alone. But every now and again, something breaks within me. Something gives that reminds me that God is there. This world is infused with His Spirit and love. And in the silence, in the pain and the hurt, God is just being with me.
And the beauty of silence, one of it’s most wonderful aspects, is that it allows you to hear God’s whisper. For Elijah, God was not in the wind, the earthquake or the fire (1 Kings 19). He was in the whisper. And from the pain of silence, we can hear the whisper of God’s embrace to us saying, reminding us that He is here, sitting with us, watching us.