What Do You Do When It Seems God is Silent?

by Jack Wellman · Print Print · Email Email

It’s easy to feel that God has turned away from you in silence, but what’s really happening? What do you do when it seems God is silent?

Answered Prayer

The Psalms are full of accounts where God answered their prayers and in ways that only God could, but the Psalms also have chapters that are full of dark, deathly images; images of God seemingly abandoning them. There are both the good and bad times for the Psalmist. He has known both high spiritual victories but also walked in valleys of a shadowy death (Psalm 23). There were times when even the great men of God felt like God was silent, but many more accounts in Scripture portray a God that is swift to hear and to answer. It’s easy to feel that God has turned away from you in silence, but what’s really happening? What do you do when it seems God is silent?

The Silence of God

The silence of God is not the shunning of God. It may feel like it, but God “has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Heb 13:5b). Our feelings are highly overrated. Human feelings and emotions are one the most unreliable of all factors in determining truth. Facts and feelings are infinitely apart at times and are often not the same. We might feel lost one day and saved another, but God promises that no one and nothing can snatch you out of the hands of Jesus and the Father (John 10:28-29). It doesn’t matter if you feel that’s true; it is; even if you have the flu. You might not feel like that’s true, but what you feel doesn’t change what is true! Feeling like God has moved far away? Then may I asked, “Who moved?” Who went where? To be sure, God never moved. The silence of God is not the end of how He is working all things out, good and bad things, for your very best (Rom 8:28). That verse doesn’t say, it will work out so you’ll feel the best about things. Truth trumps feelings. Every Word of God rules every word of doubt.

Be Still – He is God

Have you ever felt that God was not answering your prayers or that He was silent in your life? So have I. It might even feel like God is punishing you and so He has pushed you away, but is that true? The psalmist tells us, “Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him” (Psalm 37:7a), because “those who wait for the Lord shall inherit the land” (Psalm 37:9b). We are told to be silent, even when He is silent, but that doesn’t mean He’s not working things out. What He often does is work where no human eyes can see, so we must trust Him. It is up to us to “Wait for the Lord and keep his way, and he will exalt you to inherit the land” (Psalm 37:34). If we’re patient, we’ll end up waiting for His perfect timing. It is a promise that, “none who wait for you shall be put to shame; they shall be ashamed who are wantonly treacherous” (Psalm 25:3), so God says, “Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord” (Psalm 27:14). Again the Lord says, “Be strong, and let your heart take courage, all you who wait for the Lord” (Psalm 31:24)!

Where Was God?

I have heard it many time. “Where was God when my brother was killed? Where was God when the little 10-year-old girl was raped and murdered? Where was God when those things happened?” All I can really say is that “God was in the same place that He was when He saw His One and only innocent Son Jesus murdered on the cross. He has not moved since.” When tragedy strikes a school, people immediately ask, “Where was God?” I remind them, “You kicked God out of the schools, plus out of the government, and out of the public square, so how can you ask, “Where was God!?”

Advice from Paul

God can be silent and withdraw His blessings if there is ongoing sin with no repentance, or if we’re out of the will of God in some other way . The Apostle Paul admonished Timothy, “O man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. I charge you in the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus, who in his testimony before Pontius Pilate made the good confession, to keep the commandment unstained and free from reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Tim 6:11-14). Having clean hands (no ongoing sin) and a pure heart (a cleansing with confessed sins) goes a long way in hearing from God.


God may not be answering our prayers if we are living in sin. God may not answer our prayer knowing it will hurt us. God may not answer our prayer because He has something better for us. There are many reasons God may “seem” silent, but He never really is. God is God and He is faithful to His Word, even when we are unfaithful. Even more, “if we are faithless, he remains faithful— for he cannot deny himself” (2 Tim 2:13). God will not abandon what He has begun in you. The Apostle Paul didn’t think, feel, or hope this was true; he was “sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ” (Phil 1:6). I pray you’re sure of God’s love, even in the roaring silence and the darkest of nights.

Here is some related reading for you: Where Was God During the Holocaust?

Resource – Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), Crossway Bibles. (2007). ESV: Study Bible: English standard version. Wheaton, Ill: Crossway Bibles. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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