By Anne Peterson, Crosswalk.com
All of us have them. Times when we pray and feel as if our prayers bounce off the ceiling. Or we send up prayers but hear nothing for a long time. The enemy of our souls taunts us for believing in a God who sometimes is silent.
It’s hard in God’s waiting room. It’s just you and God. And while you’re there, God shows you our sufficiency comes from Him (2 Corinthians 3:5).
When Jesus visited his friends Mary and Martha after their brother’s death, Jesus knew what he was going to do. He didn’t rush over as soon as he heard about Lazarus. Jesus wholly relied on his Father.
How does God encourage us in those times when we hear nothing from him? Here are 4 ways God makes himself known even when He is silent:
1. God Speaks through Nature
As I waited on my customer at a grocery store, I watched my friend’s excitement when her customer handed her a bouquet of flowers.
“Look!” My friend said, grinning ear to ear.
“They’re beautiful,” I responded adding, “My favorite flowers are Lilies of the Valley.
It was maybe ten minutes later another woman I had never seen before, walked up to me with her hand extended.
“These are for you,” she said.
In her hand, was a couple of stems of Lilies of the Valley. I thanked her, smiling, and slipped those flowers into my name tag, smelling their sweet fragrance all day. Tucking them into my dresser days later, I kept them for years. Why were they so special? My mom had died just months earlier and I was depressed. Though I’d put my smile on day after day, when I went to work, my heart was broken. Not long after, I learned God is near to the brokenhearted (Psalm 34:18). Without one word God ministered to me by giving me flowers.
2. God Gives Us Strength
Eight years later I received a call from my sister, Peggy.
“Anne you need to go and see Dad. He has cancer.”
“I-I-I can’t come,” I stammered. Even thinking of my dad upset me. Too many memories of physical abuse. And he even blamed me for our mom’s death. How could Peggy ask me to go see him?
But Peggy also knew the regret I carried for not checking to see if our mom really did call me. Something that would have taken me a few minutes turned into years.
“Anne, you already regret not going to mom. Don’t do it again.”
Peggy was right. I decided I would go and see my father, after calling a few friends at Bible Study to ask for prayer.
Walking into his hospital room, my 51-year-old dad looked much older. His hair was nearly all white. He had teeth that were missing. Still, his face lit up when he saw me.
“Annie, you came! But why do you look so mad?”
“It was not my fault mom died.” I managed to say.
“I know,” he responded.
But instead of spewing out my anger at him, God gave me the grace to just listen. And I heard something I had never heard in my whole life—an apology from my dad.
And when he told me he was sorry for the father he was to me, I heard myself say,
“You did the best you could.”
That wasn’t my plan, nor was it to reach down and kiss his cheek. Our best conversation was our last. The next day he died.
Paul tells us when we are weak, then we are strong, (2 Corinthians 12:10). I experienced God’s strength. Paul was right.
3. God Gives Us Songs
I had been attending New Tribes Bible Institute in Waukesha, Wisconsin. One day out of nowhere, my back started hurting me terribly. I went to the hospital and was put in traction for six weeks. At the end of that time, I still had pain. Having missed so many weeks of school, I had to drop out. Returning to Chicago, I received a hospital bill for $3200.00.
Though I had applied for assistance, it was declined because I was not a resident of Wisconsin, therefore I was ineligible to receive aid. I waited, and eventually received a final letter of denial.
One Sunday night, while attending a church service we got to choose hymns. Someone chose, How Firm a Foundation, by John Rippon. When we got to the words, I am thy God, I will still give thee aid, I started smiling and felt like God was encouraging me to trust him.
And it was at that very moment, I decided I would trust him. A day or so later, when leafing through my mail, I saw another one from the hospital.
I couldn’t stop smiling when I read the words…We have decided to give you financial aid. Your hospital bill is paid in full. If you have any other bills, please send them to our office.
God gives songs in the night (Job 35:9-10). I cannot sing that certain hymn without remembering God’s special answer to my prayer.
4. God Grants Desires to Broken Hearts Too
My husband and I lived in Germany while he was in the military. Our Bible teacher Al was going to host a trip to Israel and I really wanted to go. When I brought up the subject to Mike, he said there was no way we could afford it. I knew he was right, but I also knew God can give us the desires of our hearts (Psalm 37:4).
Just months prior, I had miscarried our second child. I was both sad and angry. God knew how much I wanted another child, yet I lost that baby.
We decided to trust the Lord for that trip to Israel. We prayed with Al and when we left his office, one of our friends paid for our deposit ($150.00). We just laughed with joy. We saw God continue to work, one day after another till our whole way was paid. $950.00!
The thing that really got to me was that the verse in Psalms talks about delighting ourselves in the Lord and then He gives us the desires of our hearts. The truth is, I was not delighting in the Lord when I told him I wanted to go to Israel. It was more like this. “If you love me, God, I want to go to Israel.” And yet, God still gave me that desire. I was just so surprised.
I floated in the Dead sea, climbed Masada, waded in the Jordan River, had communion outside the garden tomb, and walked the very streets Jesus did. God used that trip to heal my broken heart.
We Can Walk by Faith
Our Father doesn’t allow anything in our lives that is not for our ultimate good. Our trials help us learn how to lean on God. Sometimes we forget essential things which are necessary to our walk with God.
We forget how we became his children in the first place. God left us His Word. We can get encouraged, and learn how to lean wholeheartedly on him, those times we don’t understand. God tells us, just as we have received Christ Jesus the Lord, we should walk in him (Colossians 2:6). And how did we receive him? By faith. We simply believed. And that’s how we’re to walk with him.
We get in trouble when we try to figure things out. God’s ways are much higher than our ways and his thoughts are higher than our thoughts (Isaiah 55:8-9). Instead of trusting in the Lord with all our hearts, (Proverbs 3:5), we trust in ourselves and lean on our own understanding. No wonder it just causes us more anxiety.
The next time you find yourself in God’s waiting room and you hear nothing, breathe deeply. God does some of his best work in the dark. That’s where he created us.
All Your Tears
Sometimes when I’m hurting, God,
I feel like no one cares.
The silence echoes in my soul,
I question that you’re there.
And Jesus whispers, “Oh My Child,
don’t listen to those fears.
I’m close enough to hear your heart
and gather all your tears.
Anne Peterson © 2020
Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/Olezzo
Anne Peterson is a poet, speaker, and published author of 16 books. Her most recent book is Always There: Finding God's Comfort through Loss. Anne has published 42 Bible Studies and numerous articles with christianbiblestudies.com. She has been a regular contributor to Crosswalk for seven years. Visit Anne’s website at annepeterson.com and sign up for a free eBook or visit her Facebook page. You can also subscribe to Anne’s YouTube channel where you can watch her recite her poems and share her heart.