Psalm 102: 1-7: Hear my prayer, O Lord; let my cry for help come to you. Do not hide your face from me when I am in distress. Turn your ear to me; when I call, answer me quickly. For my days vanish like smoke; my bones burn like glowing embers. My heart is blighted and withered like grass; I forget to eat my food. Because of my loud groaning I am reduced to skin and bones. I am like a desert owl, like an owl among the ruins. I lie awake; I have become like a bird alone on a roof.
We live in a world where there is constant noise and very little silence. Noise is something that we are accustomed to and when there is silence, we become uncomfortable. When the pastor asks the congregation to pray in silence, before the pastoral prayer, I take notice of people moving around uneasily. Even in the middle of a church service, we are anxious when it comes to silence.
Silence is especially painful when it is the silence of God in our lives. And it seems that when we are going through a painfully long period of silence from God, there are many people that want to tell us about how God has “spoken” to them. That tends to trouble me, because I begin to wonder why God is speaking to them and not to me. The silence that I am feeling becomes agonizing and then uncertainties begin to settle in my mind, and I pray really hard for some kind of answer, and it seems that all I get from God is silence.
When God is silent we can simply become upset with God, we become confused, we start to doubt. The truth is that we just don’t know what to do with God’s silence. There is some sort of anguish in my life, I am suffering and in pain like the psalmist. And it seems that I have been praying to God for a very long time, to help me with my problems, and all that I am met with, is silence from God. Then I begin to question if God has given up on me or has stopped listening to me and my prayers.
The Old Testament story of Job, is a reminder of crying out to God for answers and receiving silence. Job cried out to God for the first thirty seven chapters of the book of Job and God finally answered him in chapter 38. God said, “Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? Tell me, if you understand. Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know! Who stretched a measuring line across it?” (Job 38:4-5). That is God’s way of reminding us that God continues to be in charge of this universe.
The psalmist, in our scripture reading today, seems to be asking, “God, are you even listening to these prayers of mine that I am pouring out to you?” I’m hurting Lord, I’m in deep anguish God, please hear my prayers. The psalmist is reminding us that it’s allright to complain to God. We don’t have to hide our feelings from God because He knows what they are already.
It could be that God is not silent after all; it’s possible that we are not tuned into hearing God. We are surrounded by background noise and countless distractions. God is trying to communicate with us, but we can’t hear God because we have blocked him out. Our minds are tuned into the internet or the television instead of reading our Bible daily or a few moments of quiet prayer with God. It is in those moments that we can hear that still, small voice of our creator God. And it is in those moments that we can receive answers to our worries or concerns.
1 Kings 19:11-12: The LORD said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the LORD, for the LORD is about to pass by.” Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. This is why it is crucial to have a daily quiet time with God, so that through reading the Bible, or through prayer, God can speak to your heart through the Holy Spirit, in that still, small voice. Don’t allow yourself to be too busy that you don’t take the time to listen.
There is a story that you may have heard about a man who once lost his valuable watch in an ice house. All of his fellow workers diligently searched the ice house looking for the watch. They combed every inch of it, but they couldn’t find it. A little boy, hearing about their search, slipped into the ice house and quickly emerged with the watch. All of the men were amazed and they said, “How did you find it?” And he said, ” Well I simply went to the ice house, closed the door, laid down quietly on the floor, and then I began to listen. After a while, I could hear the tick, tick, tick of the watch.” Are you training yourself to listen for that still, small voice of God?
What happens when prayers seem to go unanswered or not answered in the way that we wanted them to be? For me, it’s continuing to have faith and trust in God and His plan for my life. I have struggled lately with my calling and why things have not worked out in the time frame that I have wanted them to. I feel that I have been faithful to God and sometimes I just can’t understand why opportunities have passed me by and doors have been closed on me. Someone told me several weeks ago that God closes one door in order to open up another one. I don’t know about you, but I am getting tired of all those doors slamming shut in my face.
However, I continue to have faith and hope, and I trust in God’s promises. I pray that you will continue to have faith and seek out some quality, quiet time with God. I believe, that it is in those quiet moments, that we have the opportunity to experience God revealing himself to us and making clear His will for our lives. We must train ourselves to be quiet, and to listen, and then respond, to our creator God.