A few weeks ago, Sarah, a cute little girl, was abducted in the Island of Bahrain. Prayers pierced the throne of grace and search teams thronged the roads of Bahrain. God answered prayers when Bahraini authorities recovered little Sarah and handed her over to her mother. The family, friends and public cried, “Praise God from whom all blessings flow.”
For every cute little Sarah found, tens and thousands of cute little children are lost and never recovered. Eleven month old babies are offered to demonic perverts to satiate their sexual perversions, says Ravi Zacharias in his book “Jesus Among Other Gods.” Parents shed bloody tears and suffer in excruciating agony.
God remains silent. Darkness descends.
Where is God when a child is killed or even lost for good?
Where is God when innocent lives are brutally maimed and mindlessly massacred?
Where is God when I am connivingly cheated of all my life savings?
I am sure you get the drift.
Unanswered Prayers Are A Biblical Reality
Job pleaded, “I cry out to you, God, but you do not answer; I stand up, but you merely look at me. You turn on me ruthlessly; with the might of your hand you attack me. You snatch me up and drive me before the wind; you toss me about in the storm.” (Job 30: 20-22, NIV).
Some faithful and well meaning Christians would contend the reality of unanswered prayers. They would argue that although Job suffered immensely, he was blessed mightily. The same holds true for King David as well (cf. Psalm 22: 1-2).
The same Bible that narrates the blessing of Job and King David also narrates the incomparable suffering of God’s people. In other words, the Bible implies God’s silence when HIS people were suffering, “There were others who were tortured, refusing to be released so that they might gain an even better resurrection. Some faced jeers and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were put to death by stoning; they were sawed in two; they were killed by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated— the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, living in caves and in holes in the ground.” (Hebrews 11: 35b-38, NIV).
These verses reveal God’s silence to those who were faithful to HIM. Even when the faithful cried out to God, HE remained silent.
Thank God for poets who so wonderfully articulate these moments of despair,1
"It’s enough to drive a man crazy, it’ll break a man’s faith
It’s enough to make him wonder, if he’s ever been sane
When he’s bleating for comfort from Thy staff and Thy rod
And the Heaven’s only answer is the silence of God."
(Andrew Peterson in “The Silence of God.”)
Is Renouncing God A Better Option?
Many have renounced Christianity because God did not answer their prayers. To renounce Christianity is one option when God does not answer prayers. If I have to paint with a broad brush, the other option is to trust in God even when God does not answer our prayers. Easier said than done though!
Consider the option of renouncing God. What would happen to those renouncing God? Do they get a better God? No way! There is only one God, and that’s it.
Those who renounce God are relegated to the severely debilitated domain of man. Within this context, the dynamics of God’s silence is to be comprehended.
When prayers are unanswered and when the praying man is in pain, it is implied that he does not receive any satisfying help from his fellow men or his fellow men are rather incapable of helping him. (Had he received help from his fellow men, he would have received answer to his prayer.)
Given this situation, renouncing God would not benefit the man in pain because men are useless anyway i.e. men cannot replace God, however which way you think. Godless men, as it is well documented throughout history, are quite adept at going astray. Therefore, those who renounce God, voluntarily yet foolishly jump from the frying pan into the blazing furnace.
Without God to save them from the blazing furnace as HE saved Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, those who renounce God would remain in perennial pain and utter despair when pain assaults them with all its consummate brutality.
What Do We Do When God Is Silent?
When God remains silent, we remain in pain. Instead of asking a hypothetical question “Why God is silent?” we may as well ask, “What do we do when God is silent?” If we are confident of our faithfulness and if we are lovingly resolved to obey God, the question, “Why God is silent?” may rather be unnecessary.
Pastor Charles Stanley offers these words of biblical wisdom, “Think about what happens when you don't receive an answer to prayer. Initially, most of us experience disappointment and confusion, especially when we have a scriptural promise and God isn't doing what He said. If the silence continues, doubts arise, and we can easily descend into discouragement. Some people feel guilty or afraid, thinking they've done something wrong and God has deserted them. Others get angry with Him.
All these are natural reactions; however, there is a better way to respond. The next time you feel God isn't answering your prayer, try the following steps:
Ask why. It's not wrong to question the Lord in order to gain understanding about His ways.
Wait for His timing. God has infinite knowledge and wisdom. He knows exactly what to do and when to do it.
Trust Him. The Lord may seem silent, but that doesn't mean He isn't involved. He's personally interested in the details and is actively working out every situation according to His good purposes.
Anticipate a more intimate relationship with Him. When we respond to the silent times with submission, trust, and patience, our relationship with Christ is enriched and deepened.
Read the Bible. If God's voice is unclear, reading His Word is a good place to tune in. That's where His thoughts, desires, and ways are revealed. It's simply His voice in written form.
Keep praying. Don't stop communicating with the Lord. Keep asking, seeking, and knocking (Matt. 7:7-11), but don't let it end there. Sit quietly with Him and listen (Ps. 46:10).”2
When we are with God, when our prayers go unanswered, when God remains silent, be sure of this that God will never leave us or forsake us, “because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” So we say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid.”” (Hebrews 13: 5-6, NIV).
When God’s silence confronts us, when our prayers remain unanswered, let us echo the words in the Bible and proclaim, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid.” Better is one day in the Lord’s court than a thousand elsewhere (cf. Psalm 84: 10).