O God, do not remain quiet; Do not be silent and, O God, do not be still. – Psalm 83:1
Sometimes God feels silent. We call out, but prayers seem to echo and bounce back. We think we do all the right things. We read the Bible, volunteer at church, cook chicken soup for our sick neighbor—but we still sense this echo chamber of isolation. Is God really there?
Feeling God’s silence is not a new thing. For 400 years before John the Baptist, there was no prophet in Israel. No one to tell them a word from Yhwh, or help them know which route to take. Just silence.
Then John came—that weirdo in camel’s skin living on locusts and wild honey—calling out for Israel to turn back to God and live rightly. John baptized Jesus in the wilderness and for the next three years, Jesus proclaimed the kingdom of God and himself as God-in-the-flesh. He laughed and walked, drank wine and ate figs. He taught and healed the blind—even raised the dead.
But then, all seemed lost.
Jesus surrendered his life like a guilty man with a dripping knife in his hand. He allowed his enemies to carry out a death sentence suitable for a murderer, even though he never sinned.
And all fell silent. The darkness of grief draped his disciples like the pitch-black grave they laid Jesus’ body in. Their dreams of God’s kingdom lay, cold.
On Silent Saturday I doubt his disciples rested. In seasons of great sorrow rest feels more like torture. We eat chocolate from the cupboard in fidgety spurts. We check social media 1,000 times. We lay restless with pulled covers, unable to sleep. “Why?” “How can this be?” “Doesn’t God care?”
The Gospels don’t record any activity on the Sabbath after they laid Jesus in a borrowed tomb and rolled the stone closed. The Gospel of Luke gives it a sentence: “And on the Sabbath they rested according to the commandment” (Lk 23:56). They obeyed the command, but I doubt they rested in their souls.
Waiting in silence tests our faith. Like the time I waited in silence for weeks as my newborn struggled for his life in the NICU. The scripture I held onto—we can all hold onto when we wait in the dark:
“I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the LORD In the land of the living. Wait for the LORD; Be strong and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for the LORD.” Psalm 27:13-14.
In what way(s) might you be waiting in silence for God?
Take some time to pray to him about the longings of your heart. Then declare your trust of him in the darkness.