Does God's silence actually help us grow? What can we gain during those quiet times?

Ruth Boyd is a passionate nurse, mom of four boys, and wife of a pastor and adventurous man. Her heart is for encouraging women in the journey. She lives in Beirut, Lebanon. All the boys have flown from the nest but still check in with modern technology.

SILENCE. IT CAN BE LIKE GOLD. A treasure to be found and desired. Especially when our lives have been full of busyness and people.

When all four of our boys were little, my husband, Darron, would sometimes gift me with taking all of them away from the house, leaving me in silence. Glorious (non-littleboy-filled) silence. I would drink in those rare hours. To this day I love the silence of a walk, especially an early-morning walk in the pine trees at Middle East University near my apartment in Lebanon.

Yet when God is silent it can be confusing and disappointing, leaving us feeling abandoned. Especially if we have big decisions to make or problems we need wisdom to solve—and we can’t seem to hear or find Him. Can you reflect on a time when you did not hear from the Lord? How did it make you feel?

Mother Teresa wisely stated, “God is a friend of silence.” Groan. I don’t like the seasons when He is silent. I prefer the times when I open His Word and hear messages that feed my soul. I’m also
extremely grateful when we are seeking direction and answers come that we know are from Him. Refreshingly, God speaks to my heart often.

However, He does take me through seasons when I strain to hear anything. Perhaps it is because my own inner voice is speaking too loudly or the nonstop conversations in my head are too noisy
as I process life. Whatever the reason, I struggle to find the friendship in silence.

I heard a speaker say once, “Sometimes God withholds the answer to keep the conversation going.” This is such a power tool to get my attention. In human relationships it can look like this. Say, for example, I send a friend a text message, but she fails to answer it for several days. I will think of her many more times than if she answered it immediately. I may flail around in a low-esteem world and wonder if she doesn’t like me or if I offended her, but her silence can lead me to desire the conversation even more.

Another example is when I would send the doctor I worked for questions on behalf of patients. Usually she was quick to answer. However, at times she simply did not answer. Her silence would send me diving into books and trusted websites to find the answers myself. Often that silence made me a better student of hers.

So, what does God’s silence do for you and me? Does it cause us to think of Him more? Does it call us to dig deeper in His Word and in prayer and listening? Or does it cause us to flounder
around in doubt?

For myself, I have learned that if I want to hear God, then I must be silent myself. I must create time and space to quiet my anxious, noisy, nonstop chattering heart and listen. At a Captivating
Conference, they described it as “commanding silence over my own inner thoughts.” Even Job’s friend knew that God would speak: “For God may speak in one way, or in another, yet man does not
perceive it” (Job 33:14).

I think we each should ask how we best hear God. For me, it is with my Bible and through journaling that I can hear from Him most clearly. Also, through intentionally being quiet and not just stopping the “little boy noise” (they are not so little anymore) around me, but more importantly stopping the noise in my head and heart. Isaiah 30:15 says, “In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and confidence shall be your strength.”

I pray that the next time God uses the silent treatment on me, I will not doubt His love or His desire to guide me. I pray that instead I will press in. Press in deeply to His intentional invitation to truly listen. To be still. To understand that there is a deep friendship awaiting in the silence. That it is an invitation to keep the conversation going. For if He always answered immediately, would I truly seek Him? Would you?