When God is Silent, Dig Deeper
“I find that I crave light as a thirsting man craves water,” wrote Commander Richard Byrd during a six-month sojourn in a metal hut at the South Pole. In the Antarctic winter, the sun made no appearance for four of those months. “Funeral gloom hangs in the twilight sky. This is the period between life and death. This is the way the world will look to the last man when it dies.” Three weeks before the sun was due to return, he wrote in his journal about the sun’s reappearance, “I tried to imagine what it would be like, but the conception was too vast for me to grasp.” How strange those words must have seemed when Byrd later edited that journal for publication, living out his days in a latitude that saw the sun’s rays every day. – P. Yancey
In a similar way, God’s people lay in pitch black dark for 430 years prior to Christ’s birth. This period is known as the silent years when God did not speak. God got quiet, meaning no Scripture was written during that time. The last verse of the Old Testament, “Behold, I am going to send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and terrible day of the LORD” and the initial utterances of John the Baptist, “Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” serve like book ends marking those 430 long years.
During that span, world history heard from Alexander the Great, Aristotle, Judas Maccabee, and Julius Caesar, but not from Jehovah God. Each Sabbath at dusk, which closed out the Jewish week, Israel’s Messiah had not yet appeared. “Next year in Jerusalem!” as the customary refrain went. Perhaps. But not that day or week.
But then everything changed in an instant. The most brilliant and final era had dawned because Christ, our Savior, was born in the City of David. But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God. – Gal. 4:4-7
I wonder how many reading this find God to be silent right now. The pressure keeps building with Christmas coming near. “Father, do you not hear me? Do you not care?” is a steady thought process tarrying through the night. I can promise you, according to the introductory words in Hebrews, silent He is not. “God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son.” He hears you. He speaks to you. He cares.
One winter back in 2003, my next-door neighbor’s well ran dry. When asked what he planned to do about it, I was stuck at his simple reply: “I’ll just have to dig deeper.” I’m not suggesting it’s your fault God appears distant, that what feels like prayers ricocheting off the ceiling walls is on you. According to Romans 11:33 only He knows why: “How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways!” However, He has sworn, and will not change His mind, that if you draw near to Him, He in turn will draw near to you. Our Lord, according to Meister Eckhart, “is like a Person who clears his throat while hiding and so gives Himself away.”
Crave for your Father in Heaven, no less than Commander Richard Byrd craved light in the Antarctic winter, or a person dying of thirst craves water. Consider meditating on the Psalms. Remember that even the Psalms, almost all of which appear wintry in tone, 149 out of 150 eventually work their way to hope. Consider reading Malachi’s four chapters, the last words of the Old Testament. Wait 4 minutes and 30 seconds before turning to Mark chapter 1, which represents the 430 silent years when no prophet spoke. Above all, be sure to remember that when Jehovah God appears quiet, you must dig deeper. He delights in being found.