Tuesday, January 15, 2008

When God's Answer is Silence

Each of us have gone through periods in our lives when we pray and seemingly, God does not answer! We wait....and wait....and wait....and yet God remains silent. I've been reading an excellent book by Ray Stedman entitled "Let God Be God."
The book states that sometimes God's silence is for a very good reason. When we go through a trial and we call out to God for relief from the pain and misery of the circumstance, we want instant relief. And God being God, we think He should be able to meet our demands instantly. All that is in our minds is to stop the pain. We aren't willing to be patient enough to consider the purpose and the will of God for which the pain has been brought into our lives. At our very best, we are selfish creatures and we want what we want when we want it. We call upon God as a quick fix to get us out of the pain. We cry for relief but the help does not come. How do you view God when He is silent to your prayers? Do you condemn Him and say He doesn't care? Do you question if He even exists? Do you think that you aren't saved and He is punishing you by not answering you right away---that He has a cruel streak in Him that loves watching you suffer?

In our pain, we often call God unjust, unloving, not compassionate toward us. And yet, it's the very pain that God uses to teach us a great lesson about His character and tests our faith and trust in Him. Often suffering is used to grow us up, to bring us to a place of maturity, understanding and personal knowledge of God that we could not learn any other way. A favorite quote of our pastor at church is that God is not so concerned about our comfort as He is our character. He wants us to become more conformed to the image of Christ in our daily walk with Him. Our trials try our faith and prove it genuine or false. A quote from Ray Stedman's book is this: "Our Lord is not in the business of reforming people. He's in the business of renewing people. He doesn't want to make us better; He wants to make us new. God desires our repentence and relationship, not reform. What God demands of us is unconditional surrender, completely giving up the right to run our own lives."

God wants "to add to our faith, goodness, and to goodness, knowledge, and to knowledge, self-control, and to self-control, perserverance, and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love." (II Peter 1:5-7) In other words, God wants us to become more and more like His Son, Jesus Christ. God's silence is giving us time to quit striving on our own to solve our problems, but allowing us time to get to the point where we allow God to speak to us and teach us His character and to get us to the point where we can truly say in our hearts, "Not my will, Lord, but thine be done."

When we arrive at that point of surrender in our lives, we then can become comforters to others who might be going through similar suffering that God has brought us through. We can testify that God is faithful in times of trial and will bring them through the trials with greater capacity to love and understand the pain of others. ,

God does not comfort us to make us comfortable, but to make us comforters!


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