Waiting When God Is Silent

A while back, while reading through the book of Job once again, I found Job speaking these words:

Job 23:8-10 “Look, I go forward, but He is not there, and backward, but I cannot perceive Him; when He works on the left hand, I cannot beholdHim; when He turns to the right hand, I cannot see Him. But He knows the way that I take; when He has tested me, I shall come forth as gold.”

At the same time, Job complained and trusted. He complained about the fact that God was incomprehensible to him; in spite of all of Job’s pleadings, at this point in the story, the Lord had not shown up. Job still had no answers.

It is remarkable, therefore, that Job still trusted Him.

Job had so little to go on—God did not explain the reasons for his immense suffering. All Job knew was that one day everything was fine, and then everything in his life began tearing apart. He lost his children, livestock, servants, and finally his health. And God said nothing to him about why. It was indeed a test, a very big one. Job wanted to meet with God, he wanted answers. He wanted an audience with the Holy One. He desired a mediator that would go between himself and God.

Yet God remained silent about these matters. In fact, there is no biblical evidence that He ever told Job what had happened.

God did eventually show up. In fact, He showed up in great power and wisdom. He asked Job over 60 direct questions—all of which contrasted God’s immensity with Job’s frail humanness—none of which Job could answer. He was utterly overwhelmed by God.

At the end of all the questioning, Job made his classic statement to the Lord: “I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees You” (Job 42:5).

That was enough for Job. In reality, he didn’t need to know the why. He didn’t need to know the why because he then had greater revelation of the Who. Caught up with God Himself, there was need of nothing else.

What I’ve been thinking about—and seeking to learn from—is the concept of waiting upon God when He is silent.

Like Paul the apostle, I know I’ll eventually hear His voice and know what to do or where to go (2 Corinthians 4:8b)… but it’s the times when I’m hearing nothing that can be the most difficult for me.

I know the counsel I give to others, because it’s the same counsel I have often given to myself. Do Proverbs 3:5-6. Focus on one day at a time (Matthew 6:34). Remain faithful to what you know to do right now. Continue to renew your mind by the word of God (Romans 12:2).

But I also know that even when I’m doing these things, I get restless. I want action, movement. I want to create my own inertia, to get going. I am tempted to take matters into my own hands; but if I do, I also know that I’m very likely to botch something up. Been there, done that.

So I want to learn to do a better job at waiting. That doesn’t mean I’m inactive, because there are still responsibilities to tend to. (I thank God for responsibility He gives me.) It doesmean that I need to learn more about waiting for God’s solutions and answers to matters in my life. I must not get ahead of the Lord, as it is often stated.

Even when God is speaking loudly, I must wait.

Here’s an old chorus I brought out of the moth balls and began signing again. Some of you may know it. If so, you just dated yourself!

We must wait, wait, wait on the Lord

We must wait, wait, wait on the Lord

And learn our lessons well

In His timing He will tell us

What to do, where to go, what to say

Amen. Thanks for reading.

2 replies
  1. Trip Kimball
    Trip Kimball says:

    Great post Bill!
    Discerning what active waiting is can be difficult, confusing in itself. But waiting is so foreign to our culture and the expectations of others, and our own.
    Silence is golden… unless you want to hear something! But, it is the thing needed. One of those lessons I’ve been learning over and over the past several years, and not without frustration. Complain and trust, yeah, that sums it up… at least for me. I’m slowing moving to more trusting than complaining.

  2. Jeremy Bair
    Jeremy Bair says:

    You don’t know me but I just wanted to let you know that this post was incredibly encouraging to me in my season of life right now. Bivocational ministry is hard when you’re working 11pm to 7am, don’t get to sleep in the same bed as your wife monday through friday, have a 2 year old and a 2 month old and care about the spiritual growth of the people you’re serving. “Complain and trust, yeah, that sums it up.” But God is still in control and I know whom I have entrusted myself to.

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