Day 10: Suffering – When God is Silent, Part 1

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Day 10 pic

 

“I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint.
My heart has turned to wax; it has melted within me.
My mouth
 is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth; you lay me in the dust of death.” Psalm 22:14-15

Oh, to experience the pain and darkness of suffering.

I well remember a time in my life, seven years ago, that was filled with lingering darkness.

Intense fear, rampant anxiety, overwhelming physical and emotional pain ruled my being.  I was a slave, made immobile by the beating of my master:

     Brokenness.

Brokenness gave me his name, and I in turn, gave him my life.

After months of frantically fighting the fear and anxiety, my heart, in exhaustion gave up.  It was so tired.  There was no more fight left to give.  My broken heart became cold, numb and unfeeling.

It was easier that way.   Brokenness was such a hard master.  The constant sting of his whip, threatening to shatter every last sliver of light within me was less pungent beneath a calloused heart.

So I weakly surrendered to him.  And with a victorious smile he declared what I already knew:

I was dead. 

And there was no going back to the life I once had.

With suffering of any kind comes loss.  And with any loss there is a death. 

As I passively endured the weeks and months to come, I remember watching the world continue to go on around me while I felt like a motionless zombie, trapped in a lifeless existence. Everyone was oblivious to the suffering that defined my inner being.  I had never felt so alone.  I had never felt so unknown.  My external suffering had passed months ago, but there was an invisible suffering that no one could see.

In my need to be known, freed, and resurrected I cried out to my God for rescue.  If anyone could bring me back to life and rid me of this Brokenness it was Him.

But I heard nothing.

Silence. 

“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
    Why are you so far from saving me,
    so far from my cries of anguish?
My God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer,
    by night, but I find no rest.” Psalm 22:1-2

Where was He?  Why didn’t He answer?  Where was the healing He had promised?

Previously only calloused, my heart was now growing completely hard.  The defeat and despair began to find their strength in anger and bitterness.

How long would He be silent?  Did He not care?  Did He not see how I was suffering? 

More silence.

What is there left to conclude when we are faced with silence?  What do you believe in the wake of never ending pain and suffering?

I started to assume, what I think most people assume when faced with suffering: that God either did not care, or that He wasn’t there.

The last sliver of hope and faith that Brokenness had not already shattered was quickly waning.

If there has been one thing that has caused my faith to waver throughout the years, it has been the silence of God during prolonged suffering.

Isn’t this the make it or break it issue for so many of us?

Where is God in suffering?  Why does He allow it?  Why doesn’t He stop it?

These are the questions we ask, these are the moments we face, when we are tempted to give up on God.

There is no way I, a young, simple, and not to mention finite, human girl, can answer questions such as these adequately in a short blog post like this.  So I will not attempt to.

What I will attempt, however is to share with you what God did eventually say to me.

It took time, but in the stillness while I was alone, I finally heard His voice, softly whispering, but distinctly belonging to Him:

Keep waiting. 

Don’t forget my promises. 

I see you. 

I hear you. 

And I am coming. 

Because I am not finished with you yet.

“For he has not despised or scorned the suffering of the afflicted one; he has not hidden his face from him, but has listened to his cry for help.” Psalm 22:24

Even when I couldn’t hear Him and I couldn’t see Him, He saw me. 

He heard my cry, and He never stopped loving me.

In the midst of pain, we tend to see only two things: what is lost behind us and what is directly in front of us.  The thought of seeing beyond our suffering is almost laughable.   What could be more powerful and impactful than the force of the pain that is dominating our present reality?

Not only that, but there is also a part of us that wants to protect our pain.  We are scared that if we look for a positive, or put our faith in a God that doesn’t always explain Himself, we will somehow be undermining the severity of the damage the pain has caused.

Believing that a God who we cannot see, loves us and will come to rescue us feels like too much of a risk. 

Because if He lets us down, we will be disappointed.

And the blow of that pain on top of the weight of what we are already experiencing would be enough to kill us.

So we instead make the choice to either be angry and assume the worst of Him, or not believe in Him at all.  It feels safer that way.  I know these feelings well, because I was right in the thick of them.

But these feelings are not truth.  So they can’t be believed.

Isaiah 49:13-16 is one of my favorite passages.  It says,

“Shout for joy, you heavens;
rejoice, you earth;
burst into song, you mountains!
For the Lord comforts his people
and will have compassion on his afflicted ones.

 But Zion said, “The Lord has forsaken me,
the Lord has forgotten me.”

 “Can a mother forget the baby at her breast
and have no compassion on the child she has borne?
Though she may forget,
I will not forget you!
 See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands;
your walls are ever before me.”

As someone who has gone through the valley of death and come out alive, I am here to tell you that whatever reason there is for the suffering you are going through, God has not forgotten you. 

He has never stopped loving you. 

And He is coming to rescue you.

So before we answer the question of why we are going through whatever we are going through, we have to first believe that important truth.

This is the only thing that will give us the hope and faith we need to believe that He has a plan that goes beyond anything we can imagine.

We can only see what is right in front of us.  But God sees the whole picture.


Jesus hung there on the cross.  Bruised, bloody, wounded and dying.

The hope of the world, crushed on display for everyone to see.

“He trusts in God. Let God rescue him now if he wants him, for he said, ‘I am the Son of God.’”  The onlookers mocked at the defeat before them.

“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” He cried out.

Silence.

And then, it was finished.

Jesus died.  Death had won.

Or so it seemed.

For just three days later, an impossibility that only God achieve turned everyone’s worlds upside down when Jesus showed up.

Alive.

Even when He was silent and all hope seemed to have died, God was still working to rescue the day.

So if you have found yourself in the deepest, darkest place that you can imagine, and Brokenness has destroyed all your hope; if you have been crying out to God and all you hear is silence; if the thought of seeing beyond your circumstance seems impossible and all you can see is what’s in front of you, remember this:

On the deepest, darkest day in history, there was still hope.  There was still love.

And even in silence, God was still working.

This post is the ninth post in a 31 Day Series titled, Discovering How God Makes a Difference. To read the rest of the posts in this series click here.

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Want to get the most out of this series?  Try journaling through the challenge questions and daily verses!  Pray and ask the Lord to open your eyes to the ways He is seeking to transform your life.

Feel like sharing how God is making a difference in your life today?  Let us know in the comments!  We can all learn from and be inspired by each other!

 This post has been happily shared with Inspire Me Mondays.

 

19 thoughts on “Day 10: Suffering – When God is Silent, Part 1

  1. This is powerful truth. Thank you for sharing it. I have been asking some of these same questions. I kept asking ‘Is God enough? Can he be?’ and the answer I heard back was ‘Wait’. So I have been waiting, in the truth that there is Hope, not as an intangible, wishful imagining, but as a reality because of Jesus. Thank you for writing about all of this so eloquently. And I am sorry for your pain.

  2. Thanks for this accurate description of how it feels! It is not easy to go through these days before the breakthrough comes, when rejoicing is hard and God just seems so far away…May we always see this glimpse of hope and trust that God is faithful enough to speak at his time.

  3. Someone very near and dear to me has been walking this for ten years. Because of the deep love I have for her, the words you write are piercing. When does it end? When is enough, enough? Beautiful post. Sad. Yet very true.

    1. I am sorry to hear of the suffering of your friend, Susan! I know firsthand how it is so painful to watch someone you love suffer. Thank you for your comment, and I hope this post encouraged and strengthened your faith.

  4. Heather, you have so beautifully described the indescribable, that dark night of the soul. I will remember your post and repeat the words, “Because I am not finished with you yet” like a mantra if and when I am at that place again. He truly has carved us in the palms of His hands. Blessings to you.

  5. Oh, how I’ve been in this place. And I don’t assume I’ll never be there again as you never know what life is going to throw at you.

    What I do know is this: He loves is and hears our every cry! For me, when the pain was too much and all I could do was cry, and pray, and cry some more, I didn’t think He cared. He seemed so far away. It seemed as though my cries fell on dead ears.

    Until one day those prayers were whispered in my ear by a friend who had no idea the prayers I had prayed. It was then I knew He was there. That He had heard all my cries. And that He loves me!

    1. I am so glad that you finally heard His voice, Denise! You are wise to not assume you will never be there again. We can never assume that unfortunately. But the fact that you know He loves you and hears your every cry is all you ever will need to get you through! Thanks for stopping by and hope you come back again soon!

  6. Heather, this is so powerful. I’ve felt that feeling of being alone in darkness before, about six months after I was widowed. I wondered where God was even though I cried out to him in my time of black pain. But I realized after awhile, when I was coming out of the dark, that He had been there all along, that it was He who sustained me when I could barely function. He allowed that painful time because through it, it brought so much healing, and had so much value.

    1. Melanie, I am so sorry to hear about your pain! I can only imagine how awful that must have been. Thank you for sharing both your experience and how God brought you healing! So glad to have met you! : )

  7. Beautifully written, this is such a tough lesson, especially for me who really likes to be in control. I like to have a plan, and we don’t always get to have a plan when serving a God who doesn’t always explain Himself. I remember having a battle in my heart over this very thing, and God just kept asking if I trusted Him? This reminded me of that.

    1. I so understand the pain of the battle of holding into control Tobi! I’m a major control freak which is why I think God has been hammering this lesson into me so much! Lol Thank you for stopping by and I hope to see you again here soon!

    2. It is such a tough lesson, Tobi! One I am still learning! I’m glad that this post reminded you of that time in your life when you needed to trust Him. I think it is good to be reminded of those times so that we can see how God is working in our lives! Thank you for stopping by and hope you come again!

  8. Heather, just this morning I was discipling someone and trying to explain how much joy there is in believing God even when the circumstances would tell you to run the opposite direction. God put this in front of my face at just the right moment so I can pass this along to her. Your wisdom goes so far beyond your years. Thank you for being so transparent. You are a huge encouragement!

    1. Twyla, thank you so much for your comment and your kind words! You have no idea how much it means just to have someone I know comment on my blog, but also to know that God is using my words to reach someone in need! Thank you again and I hope this encourages your friend. Please stop by again!

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