Matthew 27:45-46 (NKJV)45 Now from the sixth hour until the ninth hour there was darkness over all the land.46 And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, "Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?" that is, "My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?"
He wasn’t the first one to say that.
Psalms 22:1 NKJV My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me? Why are You so far from helping Me, And from the words of My groaning?
We know that God is good and loves us, and we know that He is always with us because He said that He would never leave or forsake us;
John 3:16 NKJV For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
Matthew 28:18-20 NKJV And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen. (emphasis mine)
Hebrews 13:5-6 NKJV Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” So we may boldly say: “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?” (emphasis mine)
But when we are in the middle of a mess we want to feel His presence and hear from Him.
We are not alone in feeling like this. The books of Psalms, Job, Lamentations, talk a lot about people going through difficult circumstances wondering where God was during the tough times.
Psalm 13:1-6 (NKJV)1 How long, O LORD? Will You forget me forever? How long will You hide Your face from me?2 How long shall I take counsel in my soul, Having sorrow in my heart daily? How long will my enemy be exalted over me?3 Consider and hear me, O LORD my God; Enlighten my eyes, Lest I sleep the sleep of death;4 Lest my enemy say, "I have prevailed against him"; Lest those who trouble me rejoice when I am moved.5 But I have trusted in Your mercy; My heart shall rejoice in Your salvation.6 I will sing to the LORD, Because He has dealt bountifully with me.
Job 23:8-9 (NKJV)8 "Look, I go forward, but He is not there, And backward, but I cannot perceive Him;9 When He works on the left hand, I cannot behold Him; When He turns to the right hand, I cannot see Him.
Lamentations 3 (entire chapter)
Just like when a friend stops speaking to us we often blame ourselves. “Was it something that I did or said”?
Rather than dwelling on why God is silent, maybe we should think about what we can learn from His silence.
When we talk to somebody we always want a definitive answer, and that’s what we would like with God. When we ask God to show us His will, we don’t mean to show us where we can find, or learn Your will, we mean we want a specific sign, like go to this place at this time for this reason. That could happen but in most cases it won’t.
In the New Testament books of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, people approached Jesus with a question 183 times. He replied with a direct answer only three times. Instead, He responded with a different question, a story, or some other indirection.
John 3:4-12 (NLT)4 “What do you mean?” exclaimed Nicodemus. “How can an old man go back into his mother’s womb and be born again?”5 Jesus replied, “I assure you, no one can enter the Kingdom of God without being born of water and the Spirit.6 Humans can reproduce only human life, but the Holy Spirit gives birth to spiritual life.7 So don’t be surprised when I say, ‘You must be born again.’8 The wind blows wherever it wants. Just as you can hear the wind but can’t tell where it comes from or where it is going, so you can’t explain how people are born of the Spirit.”9 “How are these things possible?” Nicodemus asked.10 Jesus replied, “You are a respected Jewish teacher, and yet you don’t understand these things?11 I assure you, we tell you what we know and have seen, and yet you won’t believe our testimony.12 But if you don’t believe me when I tell you about earthly things, how can you possibly believe if I tell you about heavenly things?
John 14:5-7 (NLT)5 “No, we don’t know, Lord,” Thomas said. “We have no idea where you are going, so how can we know the way?”6 Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.7 If you had really known me, you would know who my Father is. From now on, you do know him and have seen him!”
Luke 10:29-30 (NLT)29 The man wanted to justify his actions, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”30 Jesus replied with a story: “A Jewish man was traveling on a trip from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he was attacked by bandits. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him up, and left him half dead beside the road.
Evidently Jesus wants us to work out answers on our own using the principles that He taught and lived.
What we really want, and the reason that we get frustrated and think that God is not listening is that we want things to happen the way that we want and when we want.
“When we try to dictate to God the time, place, and manner for him to act, we are testing him. At the same time, we’re trying to see if he is really there. Doing that is putting limits on God and trying to make him do what we want. It’s nothing less than trying to deprive God of his divinity. But we must realize that God is free - not subject to any limitations. He must dictate to us the place, manner, and time". - Martin Luther
Scripture reveals numerous times and ways God spoke to His children. He met them in dreams, through a burning bush, visions, and words spoken by others. We know He doesn’t change. This means, He still speaks, in just as many unexpected ways. But we also know when He speaks, we’ll hear Him.
John 10:27 NKJV My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.
In other words, He wants us to hear Him. Learning to discern His voice, however, takes time and practice.
How does God speak directly and personally?
1. Prayer. In order for God to speak to us, we need to be in his presence listening for his voice. As we spend time in prayer, we may sense God’s presense leading in our lives.
2. His word. God speaks to us through his written word as we study and meditate upon his holy Scripture.
3. Circumstances. Many times God will cause doors to open, or others to close. If we are
walking in obedience to him, we have to assume that events in our lives are ordered by God. They don’t just happen by chance.
4. Our heart. Sometimes the Holy Spirit will minister to our spirit and reveal God’s plan for us. We will have an assurance deep in our hearts. We will feel God’s voice guiding us.
5. Others. God can use other believers to bring us his direction. Sometimes we will be singing a song in church, or we will be reading a Christian book, or hear the Pastor’s message, or one of our friends will say something that will show us God’s will.
God can reveal his direction to us through any of these five ways. But even when he does, it’s sometimes difficult to discern that what we sense or feel is truly God’s plan for our lives so we need Him to confirm His direction the same way He revealed it to us In other words: one or two more things will confirm God’s direction for you. When you get this confirmation, then you will know it’s time to step out in faith.
Just as sheep come to recognize the voice of their shepherd as he cares for them day in and day out, so too we learn to distinguish God’s heart-whispers from the noise all around us.
And in times of divine silence, we learn to wait. To trust, knowing God loves us, promised to guide us, and to teach us all things.