Have you ever met someone for coffee and it feels like you must pump every drop of conversation out of your companion? It’s such an awkward feeling. You want to either shake your friend and say, “Wake up! Don’t you see me right over here! Open your mouth and talk to me!” Or you simply want to escape this abyss of nothingness, exiting as quickly as possible.
Sometimes that quiet companion is the Lord.
I’ve gone through times when I felt like I’ve continually met with the Lord and poured my heart out to Him day after day—asking for His help in a longstanding matter and all I seem to pull out of Him is silence.
In fact, that moment was very recent for me. I’d come down with a case of shingles several nights in a row and the pain was unrelenting—like a vice on my side ever tightening that threatened to break my ribs. I cried out to the Lord in my pain and asked Him to relieve it. But the pain continued throughout the nighttime hours.
I would wake up in the morning and pray about how I’d felt—pouring out my emotional pain and questioning at His feet. It was then that I felt like the silence abated for just a brief moment. I felt like the Lord reminded me of how He had faced unrelenting pain on the cross and yet allowed the suffering to continue. He had all power at His disposal to stop the madness and yet He endured it for a higher purpose.
I also felt as if God wanted me to recognize that when I go through those painful times, when silence seems to echo off the walls, that He is right there with me in my pain. He is holding me and is as deeply hurt by what I suffer as I am in that moment.
Truly, that was very comforting to me in that moment.
But then days later another painful issue came roaring to the surface—well, actually several issues. I wanted to recall the comforting realizations and truths that I’d gained in that brief encounter, but it rang hollow. The difference this time was that these problems were not temporary, like shingles, but were problems that I’ve faced for years.
Nothing was changing and, in fact, things were only becoming more entrenched it seemed to me.
So I gave in once more to the lie that I don’t matter. That God can sit on His throne knowing full well how I’m suffering or losing what I’ve worked so hard for and be just fine with that. At least that’s what His silence felt like.
I thought about how God wants us to be persistent like the widow in our requests. Was He simply setting me up for disappointment and failure? After all, what I wanted was good, godly and for the benefit of others. Why would God remain silent and unmoved on a request like that?
I think sometimes I get so focused in my pain that I can’t see the bigger picture. I don’t see what God is doing in me through the pain, because it is in the recesses of my heart and not in my circumstances. And I don’t hear His voice because I’m only listening for what I want to hear.
Every time God has broken through in a miraculous way in my life it’s been in a way that I didn’t see coming nor could’ve ever imagined. Why would this time be any different? So I come to these realizations—driven to my knees in pain once again . . .
Sometimes the pain of waiting on God to answer can only be soothed by tears of brokenness at His feet. Sometimes I must place my unanswered prayers and hopes for a better tomorrow on the altar and let God do the resurrecting or exchange. But that also means watching my dreams die first.
Do I trust God in that dying? Do you? I hope so, because surrendering our dreams and pain is our only hope of moving forward.