Today’s reading: Psalms 40-45.
Recently my brother and I were backpacking through Zion National Park. At the end of the day, after supper, we decided to take a short hike down the trail that led from our campsite. It took us longer to return than we planned, and by the time we headed back it was getting dark. When we got close to the area of our camp, we could barely see through the woods to look for our tent, and we had forgotten to bring a flashlight.
There are times in every believer’s life when it seems like God has gone missing in the woods. God may seem to be missing, but you are the one who feels lost. Oh, that you had a light to shine that would show the way to God! How you long to hear him speak so that you might know he is still with you, and that he might show you the way. Instead, there is only silence. Has God really left you, or is there some other reason for his silence? Have you done something to drive God away? The Psalmist probably struggled with these same questions as he wrote Psalms 42 and 43.
I say to God my Rock, “Why have you forgotten me? Why must I go about mourning, oppressed by the enemy?” My bones suffer mortal agony as my foes taunt me, saying to me all day long, “Where is your God?” Psalm 42:9-10
The Psalmist wisely doesn’t speak for God, but reveals his own state of mind as he cries out for the LORD:
He longed for God. Like a thirsty animal searching for water, all he could do was think of God. Perhaps God’s silence drove his desire.
He remembered his times of worship. Though he wasn’t able to worship with the assembly now, he looked back on those times with longing.
His soul was downcast. He was depressed, and depression can lead to all kinds of negative thinking including doubt.
He was oppressed by his enemies. Perhaps this was the main reason for his seeming separation from God. His suffering led to depression which caused him to doubt God. Where was the LORD? Why wasn’t he responding to this crisis?
Despite his oppression and depression, the Psalmist looks past God’s silence with faith and proclaims, “Send forth your light and your truth, let them guide me; let them bring me to your holy mountain, to the place where you dwell. Then will I go to the altar of God, to God, my joy and my delight. I will praise you with the harp, O God, my God” (Psalm 43:3-4). God’s word is the light that overpowers the darkness of oppression and depression. God’s promises and the examples of his deliverance are just what we need when the waves are crashing over us.
God may use times of silence to deepen our desire for him and to grow our faith.
Can God trust you (with silence) like that, or are you still asking Him for a visible answer? God will give you the very blessings you ask if you refuse to go any further without them, but His silence is the sign that He is bringing you into an even more wonderful understanding of Himself. Are you mourning before God because you have not had an audible response? When you cannot hear God, you will find that He has trusted you in the most intimate way possible— with absolute silence, not a silence of despair, but one of pleasure, because He saw that you could withstand an even bigger revelation. If God has given you a silence, then praise Him— He is bringing you into the mainstream of His purposes. The actual evidence of the answer in time is simply a matter of God’s sovereignty. Oswald Chambers
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