[Word count: 869. Approximate read time: 3-4 minutes]
“I— I got a question
I got a question
Where are you?
Did you leave me unbreakable?
Leave me frozen?
I’ve never felt so cold
I thought you were silent
I thought you left me
For the wreckage and the waste
On an empty beach of faith
Was it true?”
— Jars of Clay, “Silence”
What kind of Christian song is this? I don’t recognize any scripture. These lyrics aren’t uplifting. They’re fraught with doubt! Preposterous! Jars of Clay must have fallen away from God because of their crossover compromising. I must call my local Christian bookstore and alert them right away before someone loses faith. Oh, Jesus be a compact disc recall.
Psych. I love this song. Adore it to the core, depressing lyrics and all. And though it’s the sullen cousin of a funeral dirge, the fact that it exists comforts me. That means someone else has gotten the silent treatment from God and lived to tell about it.
In the bible, David, the man after God’s own heart, wrote many psalms of lament. Clearly, their intimate relationship had good days and bad days.
“…How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide Your face from me? How long shall I take counsel in my soul, Having sorrow in my heart daily?” —an excerpt from Psalm 13.
Davey poses a good question. If God loves us, why would he leave us feeling so utterly unattended, fully knowing how it can make us go stir crazy?
Ashes to ashes
Feeling like God was not responding to me was one reason I left my church. I thought if being in this environment isn’t getting me a pass to cut the line and get closer to God faster, then why stay?
One particularly frustrating day, I was sitting in service and scores of people around me, in front, behind, and alongside seemed to be having ecstatically emotional experiences of a divine nature. More commonly put, the Holy Spirit was moving. God, how I envied them. I couldn’t tell if their joy was conjured or authentically given, but I believed the latter and desperately wanted some for myself.
Their hands extended longingly like a toddler pleading a parent’s pick-up. Tears rolled down, tissue boxes emptied of their contents lined the aisles, and the sound of a thousand burdens lifted rose through the sanctuary’s ceiling in song.
I felt nothing. Stoic as a stone. It’s not as though I were holding myself back from joining in with their choruses of adoration. I wished I was compelled to join. I just wasn’t. I wasn’t compelled to do anything. Oh to be like Jeremiah and, enrapt in affection for the lover of my soul, proclaim “But if I say, ‘I will not mention him or speak any more in his name,’ his word is in my heart like a fire, a fire shut up in my bones. I am weary of holding it in; indeed, I cannot.” (Jeremiah 20:9)
Nope. Nothing. There was no fire in my bones. Only ashes. Evidence I was once ablaze, smoldered to a cold, gray dust.
I felt a bit abandoned. It seemed the Holy Spirit was doing the Harlem shake with everyone in the room except me. That was the time, if ever there was one, to plead “Savior, savior, hear my humble cry; while on others thou art calling, do not pass me by.” No, really. Where are you going? I need you. Please don’t pretend deaf. Not now.
I recently read a piece about how the silent treatment hurts more than words and can cause physical pain. What a punishment. And just like a child, I readily assume this grand catastrophe is all my fault. Well if everything’s okay, why aren’t you talking to me? Did I not do the dance right? Did I miss a step? Are there I’s not dotted? T’s uncrossed? Just tell me if it’s my fault. Is it something I did? Is it everything I’m doing? Is just it me? Am I just a bad son?
“Are you listening to anything that I say?
‘Cause I’ve been prayin’
How many prayers can I pray?
I’m still waitin’
Maybe you’ll show up today
I know you’re here, but I can’t feel you
And if you’re speaking, I can’t hear you
How much longer will this last?”
— Joy Williams, “Silence”
This is not one of those entries that I have a tidy answer to. So if you have some constructive input, I would love to hear it. I am very disheartened. Does God not intend to ever again electrify me from the inside out as he once did? If I want to feel that again, will I have to manufacture it and hope it catches on, validating that deplorable “fake it ’til you make it” school of thought? Are my savior and I to become like a frigid couple who stay together for the kids while the private thrill is all but gone?
I don’t know. I sincerely hope not. I know God’s not dead. And I know he’s listening. But as for why he avoids me, I think he’s got some explaining to do.
- By Your Side: A Devotional (an answer to “God and the Silent Treatment”) (junkyardsalvation.com)
- What to Do When God Is Silent (relevant.com)
- Megachurch ‘High’ May Explain Their Success (huffingtonpost.com)
- God is FAITHFUL to keep His PROMISES (nackynice.wordpress.com)
- Prayer: Conversing with God (frted.wordpress.com)
- I Know God Is Awake….Do You? (ubebetternotbitter.wordpress.com)