When Your Friendship With God Goes Silent and Sour
1 How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? 2 How long must I bear pain[K] in my soul, and have sorrow in my heart all day long? How long shall my enemy be exalted over me? 3 Consider and answer me, O Lord my God! Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep the sleep of death, 4 and my enemy will say, “I have prevailed”; my foes will rejoice because I am shaken. 5 But I trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation. 6 I will sing to the Lord, because he has dealt bountifully with me.—Psalm 13:1-6, NRSV
I hate when God does not answer immediately. To be fair, I’m sure God is not too thrilled with me when I don’t answer him quickly either. When God doesn’t answer me quickly and clearly, especially when my back is up against the wall, I tend to get stressed, impatient and/or sullen. Honestly, I get scared, too. What about you? Have you ever asked God for help, but it seemed as if God was unresponsive? If so, that might have raised questions for you, such as:
- Is God deaf or dumb?
- Is God ignoring me or — even worse — mad with me?
- Why does God invite our prayers but refuse to answer them?
- Does prayer really work?
- Am I using the right words and/or assuming the right posture for my prayer to be heard and answered?
Those are my unedited questions. However, they are real questions, even if they are not the right ones. To some, such questions may sound feckless, blasphemous and faithless. However, others may find their friendship and fellowship elicits similar questions, particularly in light of their painful moments when God is either slow or silent. If you have ever asked questions like those above, know you are not the first to do so and you are in very good company.
David utters this prayer because he, as per usual, is in trouble and needs God. Evidently, he has prayed not once, but repeatedly, asking God to turn his situation around. Like us, he asks, then waits for an answer. Yet, God does not appear to be talking to him. He has called out to God, but God seems to have put him on hold to answer another call. That seems unbearable and unfair when the situation is urgent and important. David says as much, and even goes further. He accuses God of taking God’s sweet time answering his pressing prayer. How bold! Yet, how instructive!
From David, you and I can learn this when God seems silent: Keep talking, even when you’re not hearing back from God. However, when you do so:
- Be honest with God. (Vss. 1-2)
- Be humble before God. (Vss. 3-4)
- Be hopeful in God. (Vss. 5-6)
You may not desire to do what David suggests in the passage above. That’s fine. Still, keep trusting God with what you think, feel and hope. Sooner or later, he will answer. Perhaps, not as you expect. Yet, he will answer, working out things in you and for you in ways you never would have anticipated. At least, that’s been my experience and that of many believers throughout the ages. Keep listening, even if at first you don’t hear anything. Keep talking, even if you have to use one word sentences. Keep looking for his answer irrespective of how long it takes.