What Do You Do When God Is Silent?
· No one escapes it.
· It will happen to you at least once in your life.
· It’s scary, frightening and will make you wonder whether you will ever be the same.
· You may feel like you’re going crazy.
· It makes you wish for your old life, however difficult it may have been.
· You will think no one else has ever gone through this and survived.
· You wake up at 3 AM and panic sets in.
· You may not talk about it to anyone. Who would understand?
· You think there is something wrong with you. Why can’t you just turn things around?
What is “it?” Quite simply, your world has turned upside down. There may have been any number of things that pushed you into this crazy time…your boss announces you’re fired, your partner tells you they’re leaving, an accident alters your life in a significant way, or your child receives a frightening medical diagnosis.
Most of us have experienced something like this at least once in our lives. So what’s the first thing we do when something bad or difficult happens? Research done at Brandeis University indicates that 90% of us pray. Wendy Cadge, a sociologist who directed the research, said in an article in the Washington Times, “(Most people who pray) imagine a God who is accessible, listening, and a source of emotional and psychological support, who at least sometimes answers back.” (Italics mine.)
But what do you do if you’re in one of those “sometimes” that Cadge mentions? You’ve prayed — for money, a job, healing from an illness, a loved one’s recovery — and nothing happens. Where is God during those times? What do you do when God seems silent?
I had that happen to me several years ago. One of my books, Listen: Trusting Your Inner Voice in Times of Crisis, had just been published. I was out on the lecture circuit and giving seminars, scheduling lots of radio shows and interviews, traveling a great deal. It probably sounds exciting, but to be honest, I was exhausted.
Most of us would just love it if the Universe spoke to us in a clear, direct manner. “Hey Lynn! I know you’re struggling in your life. Here’s the answer…” Followed, of course, with detailed instructions about what you should and shouldn’t do in order to be successful. In the bible, God spoke to Moses from a burning bush. (I don’t know about you, but if a burning bush started yelling at me I’d definitely run in the other direction!) But truthfully, don’t you long for this kind of guidance when you need direction?
I know that in my life during that dark period, I had no down time. I was ON all the time. All my energy just seemed to go out to other people — talking, helping, counseling, teaching. I wasn’t taking time for myself. There wasn’t any room in my psyche for spirit to reach me.
What I finally realized was there was a mantra of sorts going through my mind at all times. It wasn’t your typical “Om” kind of mantra. It was “I NEED TO SLOW DOWN!” I suddenly realized I was missing God speaking to me because I was drowning out this inner wisdom out with activity. I got so involved in my book promotion and other work that God's voice simply was lost in the crowd. It wasn’t until I really took some time to rest, to focus on myself, to be in nature, to sleep, that I felt God’s presence again.
If you read the Bible and other spiritual books you’ll know that God doesn't usually speak in a loud voice, but rather in a still, small voice; a voice that easily gets drowned out when you and I are listening to everything else out there.
Our modern culture fosters a great deal of impatience. People want clear answers and they want them yesterday. In other times and civilizations there was respect for the process of change, and respect for a person’s difficult choices. People understood that there was a correct time for actions and decisions. If you look to nature you can easily see the rhythm of life, the ebbs and flows of the ocean, the seasons of the year when leaves die off and let go and when they’re born anew in the spring.
Following are some things that I found helpful during my “God is silent” period.
Rest, Sleep, Dream and Recover