Is God Absent When He is Silent?

Our middle daughter was about the sneakiest two-year-old imaginable. Quiet, sweet and oh so cunning. 

But the one sneak I never got used to was the tip-toe out of bed escape. Because she did it so quietly. So unexpectedly. So good. 

I would round a corner and there she’d stand like a flat Heidi against the wall waiting without a peep, still as a statue for who-knows-how-long until I hurriedly turned down the hall.  

She scared the life out of me every time.

She didn’t move while I peeled myself off the ceiling. She patiently waited for me to stop screaming. When my legs stopped pumping and my hands dropped from clutching my heart, she silently reached out little arms for a hug. 

Our pastor says a lot of good things, but recently a sentence caught me mid stride as it were, flattened against the walls of my thinking then stepping into my situation with a warm hug. He is preaching through Esther. I love that book.

God’s Sovereign hand is all over it, and the drama of its story is spellbinding. 

“The silence of God does not equate the absence of God,” Pastor Tim said.

The Bible opens and closes with the presence of God. He is present. Although when we can’t see Him at work with our physical eyes and sometimes we wonder where is He and why doesn’t He do something? But God is God. 

He is no less present when I am acutely aware He is in front, behind and at each side as when it feels He is in a game of hide-and-seek. His silence never means He is absent. 

Voices in the streets are really loud right now. Actions erratic.  

I often turn to Psalm 77 when it feels dark, when I can’t find my way. It’s written by someone experiencing a silent God, invisible in spite of searching and pleading. 

“I cried out to God for help; I cried out to God to hear me. When I was in distress, I sought the Lord; at night I stretched out untiring hands, and I would not be comforted.” Psalm 77:1-2 (NIV)

I know that cry, and I recognize the deafening silence. Do you too? 

“I thought about the former days, the years of long ago; I remembered my songs in the night.” Psalm 77:5-6 (NIV)

Asaph’s Psalm works its way through the paths of an invisible God who at times works in unseen ways. His mind weaves through the same questions we ask.  Has he rejected us? Has His love vanished and promise failed? Where is He? Until they rest on the most important question. Who is He?   

“Your ways, God, are holy. What god is as great as our God?” Ps. 77:13 (NIV)

Our vision is challenged. Someday we will turn a corner and vision will clear. We will know that to be silent is not to be absent. We will see God’s hand in the mundane ordinary events of life. In our awe we will wonder how we could have ever imagined Him absent. 

“Your path led through the sea, your way through the mighty waters, though your footprints were not seen.”

Our adult eyes are tested to look beyond the reality around us and embrace what we can’t see, to believe it to be more real in fact, than what we can see. We will know beyond the shadow of a doubt that He was waiting at each turn, around every corner and into the dark hallway of our souls. And the warm embrace as He steps into our vision will be glorious. 

16 Replies

  1. J.D. Wininger Reply

    Amen! So often, when we can’t feel or hear God, we have to remind ourselves that He is still here. When those moments happen, I am prompted to do a self-check to ensure I’ve not done something to grieve the Holy Spirit. In doing so, I find He draws closer as I find more things I’ve let sneak into my life.

    • Sylvia Schroeder Reply

      Thank you J.D. So true. My pastor’s words have been a sweet reminder to me of God’s continual presence. Appreciate as always your comments!

  2. RJ Thesman Reply

    The silence of God does not equate the absence of God. While we know this truth, it is good to be reminded. Thank you.

    • Sylvia Schroeder Reply

      They were my pastor’s words, but so powerful to me! Thanks RJ.

  3. Mike Reply

    Thanks,

  4. bill (cycleguy) Reply

    I’m preaching this week on Vision to See God’s Plan and using Joseph and Esther as examples. I’m going to “borrow” this statement Sylvia. It is a gold mine.

    • Sylvia Schroeder Reply

      Thanks Bill. I can’t claim credit. My pastor said it but it resonated we well with me! I appreciate the read and comment!

  5. Beth Callison Reply

    I remember the study I did on Esther and Beth Moore made the comment, “He is never more present than when he seems strangely absent”. When we can’t see his hand we trust his heart. Love your blog dear friend. Always!!!

    • Sylvia Schroeder Reply

      Thank you Beth. I love that, “He is never more present than when he seems strangely absent.” It happens, doesn’t it? Such a comfort to know He is always there. Glad He has provided dear sisters in Christ like you to help carry those weights.

  6. Jeanne Doyon Reply

    So good, Sylvia. Thank you for sharing this truth…one we need to remember every day as the world attempts to drown out God’s presence and voice.

    • Sylvia Schroeder Reply

      Thank you Jeanne. The world does try to drown out God’s presence and voice, you are right. So grateful for the anchor of His truth.

  7. Norma Reply

    I need to be reminded God’s silence doesn’t mean His absence. Encouraging post.

  8. Joanna Eccles Reply

    Your post reminds me of the part of the Way Maker song that even when we don’t see it or feel it, God is still working. His silence does not mean He is idle. He still has our backs.

Reply