Why God is Silent

Why God Is Silent

Has there ever been a time in your life when you felt as though God was silent, or you thought He failed to carry out His Word? Perhaps something happened and you asked God, “Why”, and He was silent about that subject for years. When God is silent, there are reasons and we must learn to trust Him and draw closer to Him in His silence.

For example, John 11:1-6 Now a certain man was ill, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. It was Mary who anointed the Lord with ointment and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was ill. So the sisters sent to him, saying, “Lord, he whom you love is ill.” But when Jesus heard it he said, “This illness does not lead to death. It is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.” Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So, when he heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was.

Initially, those last two sentences don’t make sense together. Jesus receives word that Lazarus, the brother of Mary and Martha, is sick. The underlying meaning is, “Come quickly and heal our brother,” but it seems like Jesus dismisses this as nothing to be concerned about. Jesus says the sickness will not end in death and He stays two days longer where He was.

Now, Jesus had stayed in Martha, Mary, and Lazarus’ home. He loved them. Jesus heard the plea of his beloved friends, and yet, He doesn’t respond like they hoped. As a result of His delay, Lazarus dies. Naturally, we question Jesus’s love and wisdom, “How does this glorify God?” We know the rest of the story. We know Jesus did not lie. But at the time, nobody understood this, least of all, Mary and Martha.

We have been learning what it means to be followers of Jesus, to have an intimate relationship with Him, denying ourselves, picking up our Cross, and following Him daily. Mary and Martha were followers of Jesus. They had seen His miraculous healings. They had an intimate relationship with Him. They had no reason to believe that He wouldn’t respond to their request and come to Bethany. They must have wondered why He didn’t. Can you imagine their disappointment and confusion when Lazarus died after Jesus said his illness would not lead to death?

If you have you ever been in the midst of a situation where you called out to God, but He did not respond as you hoped, or it appeared to you that God’s promises failed, you’re not alone. Many have had this experience. Jesus had the same experience. As He hung on a cross, He cried out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

God, the Father, was silent.

Why doesn’t God do something in the midst of our pain and anguish? Why is He silent when we need Him the most? Understanding God’s silence isn’t easy, because our natural tendency is to interpret the silence as indifference.

This is especially true when we are in the midst of a crisis. Mary, Martha, and Lazarus were certainly in the midst of a crisis, and the last thing they expected from Jesus is for Him to be unresponsive. He didn’t come and heal Lazarus. He said this illness would not result in death. And Lazarus dies! Jesus’ promise and unresponsiveness to their request was very confusing.

“Why? Why? Why?” they must have wondered.

John 11:17-21 Now when Jesus came, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb four days. Bethany was near Jerusalem, about two miles off, and many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to console them concerning their brother. So when Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him, but Mary remained seated in the house. Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.

When Mary and Martha finally see Jesus, they place the blame and responsibility of Lazarus’ death on Him. After all, He could have prevented this and He didn’t.

Many of us have had similar thoughts at different times in our lives. We experienced trials and sickness, and in the midst of them, our prayers seem to be unanswered, our requests seem to be ignored, our enemies seem to be victorious, and our Omnipotent God could have prevented it. Yet, He seems to be silent and indifferent.

Therefore, why is God silent? There are several possibilities. I will briefly mention five.

  1. There are times God is silent because of our sin:

Psalm 66:18 If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened.

Isaiah 59:2 Your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear.

Isaiah 1:15-17 When you spread out your hands in prayer, I will hide my eyes from you; even if you offer many prayers, I will not listen. Your hands are full of blood; wash and make yourselves clean. Take your evil deeds out of my sight! Stop doing wrong, learn to do right! Seek justice, encourage the oppressed. Defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow.

In the case of sin, The Silence of God should lead us to REPENTANCE. He will listen and respond to a repentant prayer. After our sin is forgiven and no longer separates us from God, then we can hear Him again.

  1. There are times God is silent because of our broken vows and forsaken duties:

Ecclesiastes 5:4 When you make a vow to God, do not delay in fulfilling it. He has no pleasure in fools; fulfill your vow.

1 Peter 3:7 Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers.

Matthew 6:15 But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.

The Silence of God should lead us to RESTORE broken vows with God and broken relationships with others. After we have done these things, then we can hear God again.

  1. There are times God is silent because our prayers are wrong.

James 4:2-3 You want something but don’t get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.

Test your request by the Word of God. If it is a prayer to know God better, a prayer for the Holy Spirit, a prayer for the interpretation and understanding of God’s Word, a prayer for someone’s salvation or benefit, then it is a prayer in accordance with God’s will. Selfish prayers will be ignored and met with silence.

  1. God seems to be silent when we are not reading His Word. Don’t claim God is silent when your Bible is closed. Complaining about a silent God while your Bible is closed, is like complaining about not getting any texts when your phone is turned off. Read His Word daily and you will hear God speak.
  2. Sometimes God’s silence is His answer. He momentarily delays a response because He is about to do something bigger than we requested.

For example, Jesus loved, Mary, Martha, and Lazarus, but He stayed where He was to give them a revelation that was infinitely more important than Lazarus’ healing.

Can it be said of us that Jesus loves us so much that He delays a response because we have a capacity to receive a bigger revelation? If so, then His silence is His answer. The revelation will come in a way that is beyond anything we could imagine or asked.

Therefore, our challenge is to not interpret God’s silence as indifference or insensitivity, but as a sign that He is correcting us, or bringing us into an even more wonderful understanding of Himself. God’s silence is an indication of His intimacy with us and His confidence in our faith.

As parents, there comes a time in our relationship with our children where we have to fade into the background and remain silent. As our children grow and mature, part of the process is their having to work through situations in life and figure some things out for themselves. Our silence is not an act of giving up, but rather a supreme gift of love and confidence in them.

That’s not to say that our children will come though each of those situations unscathed, because they won’t, but the gift of our silence will many times awaken them to a deeper understanding than if we had been hovering over them, providing step-by-step instructions.

The same is true for God, who, as our heavenly Father, gives us the gift of His silence. We won’t always come through unscathed either, but we, too, may be awakened to a deeper understanding and revelation.

John 11:25-26 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?”

For Mary, Martha, Lazarus, and for us, that deeper understanding and revelation is the greatest truth mortal beings ever knew—that Jesus Christ is the Resurrection and the Life, and whoever believes in Him will never die! Then, to demonstrate this truth, Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead!

As the Resurrection and the Life, Jesus has power over death and He gives His Life—eternal life—to whomever believes in Him. This body is going to die and return to dust. However, the spirit and soul those who believe in Jesus will continue to live eternally in a heavenly body! “Do you believe this?” Jesus asks.

If so, our faith in Jesus’ Word about eternal life should also cause us to obey His Word while we live this life. This should also cause us to trust His Word and love when He is silent.

Therefore, remain confident in prayer. If you are not sinning, if you are keeping your vows, if you are relating to others in love, and if you are asking according to God’s will, then His silence does not mean He is displeased, but exactly the opposite. He is bringing you into His purpose, and the answer will be an amazing revelation.

So, trust Him. Wait expectantly to see the purpose of His silence. Remain faithful and confident even if you are disappointed and confused by the delay. Continue praying and listening for His reply. Draw closer to Him and rest in His silence.

Beware of what the devil calls unanswered prayer. He is a liar.

In the case of Martha, Mary, and Lazarus, what seemed like an unanswered prayer was a sign that Jesus loved them. Moreover, He knew they were ready to receive a bigger revelation than they requested. Therefore, Jesus silently stayed where He was.

“Footprints in the Sand”

by Mary Powers

One night I dreamed a dream.

As I was walking along the beach with my Lord.

Across the dark sky flashed scenes from my life.

For each scene, I noticed two sets of footprints in the sand,

One belonging to me and one to my Lord.

After the last scene of my life flashed before me,

I looked back at the footprints in the sand.

I noticed that at many times along the path of my life,

especially at the very lowest and saddest times,

there was only one set of footprints.

This really troubled me, so I asked the Lord about it.

"Lord, you said once I decided to follow you,

You'd walk with me all the way.

But I noticed that during the saddest and most troublesome times of my life,

there was only one set of footprints.

I don't understand why, when I needed You the most, You would leave me."

He whispered, "My precious child, I love you and will never leave you

Never, ever, during your trials and testings.

When you saw only one set of footprints,

It was then that I carried you."


Lastly, there is one more reason God is silent—you have no relationship with Him.

Nevertheless, Jesus loves you. His Holy Spirit has been silently convicting you of sin, righteousness, and judgment to come. He has also been silently giving you faith to believe.

Now, He is waiting for you to publicly confess that He is the Son of God who atoned for your sin on the Cross. He is waiting for you to break the silence by asking Him to become your Lord and Savior. He is waiting for you to repent of your sin and to give your life to Him through baptism. His salvation is waiting for you today. He is waiting to give you His life through the Holy Spirit so you can have an intimate relationship with Him every day.

What are you waiting for? Won’t you break the silence with God right now by coming forward to profess your faith in Jesus?