What God wants to say to you
As I sit to write, I'm reminded of a song I re-listened to earlier today: "The Silence of God" by Andrew Peterson. It starts:
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
Have you ever felt that? Had such a strong longing to hear from God, but heard nothing? It's like being heartbroken by God, or that's how it feels to me. The pain, the loneliness, the desperation to just hear Him and know He's there feels like it could tear you apart. Tears fall. You cry out into the night. And there's no response.
I was experiencing this so intensely a few weeks ago. All I wanted to do was know God at least heard me as I was pleading with Him. I wanted Him to confirm that to me, and I asked Him over and over again, please, let me know You hear me.
I've always felt I've struggled hearing God's voice, especially after miss-hearing Him when, at 14, I thought He told me who I was going to marry one day, and it ended up clearly being all wrong. I couldn't understand how -why- He would let me mishear Him like that when all I wanted was to hear what He was truly saying. Now, I believe He allowed me to misunderstand Him like that to show me He wanted me to seek and trust in the Guide above the guidance. Still, mishearing Him was part of what led to my crisis of faith last year. All my doubts, along with my struggles with depression, loneliness, and an eating disorder, piled up so high that I began questioning how I really knew He was real at all. It was the darkest and most hopeless time of my life.
Fast forward through a decision that I simply needed to choose whether I believed in God or not, and choosing to believe, then, soon after, meeting a friend who would become my first boyfriend, going through residential treatment for my eating disorder, finding relief from a lot of my depression in the process, coming back home, going on dates and eventually a breakup for the first time, then relapsing into my eating disorder and depression again, I attended a discipleship training school for two and a half weeks. It's topic for week 1 was "Discerning God's Voice".
During the week, I heard a speaker say that one way God spoke to us was through conviction. So, because I was so desparete to hear from Him, and He didn't seem to want to speak to me through any other way, I began praying, earnestly, that He would at least convict me of something- anything! I felt no conviction, I heard no answer.
One day, though, a thought popped into my brain. It's true, I knew I believed He did care, but it also didn't feel like it. Nevertheless, with the head knowledge that Jesus did love me- deep enough to conquer death for me by dying in my place- I pictured Him up in heaven in that moment, admist, yes, even the silence of God, longing for me to know that He still loves me. To trust in His love. On that day, I wrote this:
I'm asking Him to give me the faith to keep believing He loves me even though there is so much I don't understand. I don't understand how to KNOW He's real, don't understand why He's not answering me... But He is God, and I am not. So, I want to trust in Him, even though I can't see or feel Him right now. Because, once I'm through, I want to see the beautiful smile on my Lord’s face when He tells me that my faith- in the fact that He still loves me and always has- brought joy to His heart as He desperately longed for me to know of His deep and immeasurable love for me.
That realization was truly a gift to me. And though I didn't see it then, the Bible says that "Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning," (James 1:17). I believe that thought, which entered my head so randomly but had such an impact, was given to me by the Holy Spirit- God Himself. And in that way, God spoke to me without me even realizing it!
A few days later, still not comprehending my prayer had already been answered, the Lord gave me another confirmation- that, indeed, He does hear me and want to speak to me. It was through a friend who I hadn't heard from in months, when, out of the blue, she decided to send me two Bible verses over text. The first was this: "I sought the Lord and He heard me, and delivered me from all my fears," (Psalm 34:4). My jaw dropped. I knew without a shadow of a doubt that this was God's answer to my prayer. He heard me! He really did!
After that, I was, finally- as I had asked- convicted of something. And guess what? I rejoiced! It was another answer to my prayer.
It's been a few weeks since then now, and I've really been struggling since then. I came home from my discipleship training school, leaving behind all the people I had grown to love in the short time I was there, and now have been waiting to go back to residential eating disorder treatment. Thinking back today, I don't really see any way I've heard from God since I got back home, but I also realized that I haven't been seeking Him. "Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you," (Matthew 7:7). If I'm not intentionally listening, how can I expect to hear?
When you don't hear from God, though, the advice I've been given is going back to the last thing you remember Him saying to you. If you feel like you've never heard Him speak to your soul, think back to when you were first saved. Whether you realized it then or not, the Holy Spirit led you to make that decision to place your faith in Jesus as the Son of God, your Lord and Savior. God spoke to you: He called you. So remember that, hold onto that when the silence is dreadfully loud, and find comfort in knowing God DOES want to speak to you again. Listen, and in His time, He will.
There's nothing you can do that will make God "change His mind" and decide to talk to you. Everything He gives us is because of His grace, not any part we play ourselves. But if we don't desire to hear from Him, will we even recognize it when He does speak to us?
"Behold, I will do a new thing,
Now it shall spring forth;
Shall you not know it?
I will even make a road in the wilderness
And rivers in the desert." (Isaiah 43:19)