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Can God Be Silent?


It was in 2006 that German-born Pope Benedict XVI visited Auschwitz where six million Jews had been killed under Adolf Hitler’s dictatorship and the words he uttered were: “In a place like this, words fail; in the end, there can be only a dread silence, a silence which itself is a heartfelt cry to God: Why, Lord, did you remain silent?” The question on the silence of God is deep. God is the focus when silence hits you where you are. Even atheist Bertrand Russell said: “Unless you assume a God, the question of life’s purpose is meaningless.” What is Bertrand Russell saying? Silence speaks for and to everyone.
Maybe you are a preacher who has just found out that the price you pay for the Cross is just too much. Maybe you are a politician who has been wrongly accused. Maybe you are a social worker trying to make ends meet. Maybe you are a lawyer fighting a tough case because you know it is right. Maybe you are a teacher or a professor who just had some issues with the departmental people. Maybe you are a youth working and you don’t know where you will end up in life. Maybe you are a student who wants to study but there is no one to finance you. Maybe you are praying for the right person in your life and nothing seems to be taking place. Maybe you are the one who is bearing everything to save the marriage because you know that beyond the hurt and the worthlessness that you have experienced, there is hope – dear hope. Maybe you have a physical deformity from birth and you just cannot let go of it. Maybe you come from a broken family. Maybe you are a mother who just lost your baby. Maybe your daughter or your son ran away from home and you just cannot believe this is happening in the family. There are just too many things that make your silence go deeper. Silence strikes the very core of the meaning of life and the only question seems to be: “Why?” The question gets deeper and it seems there is no answer or is there?
A.W. Tozer says in his book The Knowledge of the Holy: “God is said to be absolutely free because no one and no thing can hinder Him or compel Him or stop Him. He is able to do as He pleases always, everywhere, forever.” Job’s friends underestimated God when they hurled words after words at Job. They thought they knew what God was up to – that God had given up on Job! But the problem with them was that God was not dealing with them. So, they were unaware of Job’s situation. Job 13:15 confirms that it was between God and Job and Job knew what God was capable of: “Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him...” So, it is assured that God and Job were in touch with each other. Are you underestimating God like Job’s friends? Many times we say: “God can do it. With God all things are possible!”  Sounds familiar? But the correct re-sentencing is: “God can do it. However, God will not do it if I am not willing to allow God to do it.” The Bible clearly shows us that God always does things His way and on His time. He seems to be very much present just like you with your family during dinner, though no one is talking to each other; just eating. We also read in the Bible that people have done just one down through the ages: they tried to run ahead of God. We see it even today. Lucifer tried to run ahead of God and he was thrown out of his position. Abraham tried the same by sleeping with Hagar on Sarah’s advice and bore Ishmael. Saul tried the same by initiating the burnt offering at mount Gilgal, though prophet Samuel was the appointed person for that (1 Samuel 13:8-9). Eventually Saul died a sorry death by committing suicide (I Samuel 31:4) after trying to run ahead of God. Jonah did the same by looking at things from a very small human viewpoint by refusing to go to Nineveh as God directed. It is said that Jonah did not know God but Jonah 4:2 says: “...I knew You are a gracious God...” So, Jonah did know God. You can know God and knowingly run ahead of Him at the same time. You can make God silent by trying to run ahead of Him but you will bear the consequences. So, silence hurts both you and God but ultimately the battle belongs to the Lord (Jude 1:9).
The year was 1961 and the Cold War was brewing in untold proportions. There was a young man named George Verwer at that time. Ever since his conversion at a Billy Graham meeting in 1955, he took every opportunity to share the Gospel – from door to door, in his school and brought his own father to the Lord. In 1961, he sneaked in to the Soviet Union to distribute Bibles. He was caught and the KGB told him, “We have a place for American spies. It’s called Siberia.”  The interrogator further said, “Look we’ve had our spaceman up there, looking around, and we didn’t find your God.”  The Russians had just sent the world’s first cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin to outer space on April 12 the same year (today reports say that one third of the population in Russia is converted). Two days later he was released convinced that he was not a spy but a religious fanatic. He was deported to Austria.  He wondered what God was up to. So, he wanted to hear from God. He climbed a tree on a mountain there in Austria and spent the day in prayer and that is how he realized that his vision was too small for God. Maybe he did not listen enough to God. This was the start of his Operation Mobilization, more popularly known as OM. Today we read OM Books. OM has 5400 people working in more than 110 countries. Isaiah 55:8-9 states: “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, says the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” The silence of God is actually God asking us a question about our walk with Him.  Job cried in desperation: “I am crying out to you. Why are you silent?”  In short, Job was asking God to make the silence stop. How many times have you asked God to stop the silence?  C.S. Lewis says: “Some people feel guilty about their anxieties and regard them as a defect of faith but they are afflictions, not sins. Like all afflictions, they are, if we can so take them, our share in the passion of Christ.”  Job learned a lot about himself in the light of God by asking those questions. You can understand things clearly only in the light of God not your light. The moment you stop questioning God, you start undermining your very integrity to exercise your free will. Can you afford to abuse your free will? According to Google Trends (data available since 2004) which shows a graph of how often a word or a term is searched, the search frequency for God is increasing. It is also said that Bible sales rose by 40% after the Twin Towers came down. So did people hear God amidst and beyond the din of colliding rubble of the Twin Towers? God said in Isaiah 1:18: “...Let us reason together...” This is one of the few verses wherein God throws an open challenge and says: “Let’s hear it. Bring it on.” Do you think God is passive and is not bothered about you?
Can God be silent?