The Silence of God

Today's guest blogger is Stephanie Van Gorden. I know how much you all enjoy her posts! 

Some time ago, Andrew Peterson wrote a song called The Silence of God ( It has long been a favorite, but when I mentioned it once, several people became concerned about my spiritual footing. They wondered if I’d completely lost hope, or if I felt forsaken, or any other number of negative emotions or lies were plaguing me.

“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 Heavens’ only answer is the silence of God.”

You know, I think the best answer to that question is, yes and no. It's a constant battle for most of us, no matter what the nature of our trials, to choose to believe that God is who He says He is, and that He means what He says He means. This song expresses well the emotions of trying circumstances, and reminds us of the truth: that, as Hannah Whitall Smith discovered, "All you say may be very true, but then, in spite of it all, there is God."

This song echoes many of the psalmists' cries of "God, where are You?" And it recalls that Christ also asked, "My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?" 

"The Heavens' only answer [was] the silence of God."

We live and work among people for whom faith is a daily battle, just like this. We serve people who feel they've lost their heart. We get involved in the messes where people "have to" remember what broke them apart. Where they feel that, one more thing, and they're going to lose their faith. Not because they choose it but because (due to wrong thinking or whatever), it doesn't make sense. Where is God in some of these situations?

I can't claim to speak for him, but the way Andrew Peterson writes, I wouldn't be surprised if he brought in The Man of all Sorrows for two reasons: 

First, "Consider Him..." Remember that He was tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Remember that He also experienced the silence of God. Remember that, for those in Him, He now stands as an advocate before the Father. Remember Him. Remember that He is God's ultimate proof of presence and love (Romans 8:31-39).

Second, God was "silent" for 400 years, and that silence was ultimately, gloriously, and eternally broken by the coming of The Man of all Sorrows. It may feel like God is silent, but through Christ we have access to the Throne, before which we can come boldly to find mercy and grace in time of need (Hebrews 4:14-16). But, lyrically, it's hard to put all that in a song of this type.

This song puts into audible form the fact that we do sometimes feel all at sea, lost, unheard, forgotten. It's a fact of human existence. It doesn't mean our feelings are telling the truth, but sometimes grief is so strong that it must be acknowledged, not swallowed down and ignored. We shouldn't pretend that our feelings always match up to truth. It isn't sin to acknowledge those feelings, if we use that acknowledgment to preach truth to ourselves, which Peterson does. The sin is to live in those feelings, to make those feelings our source of truth. We can grieve, just not to the point that there is no hope.

But sometimes hope must be shared gently. We can't just dump Romans 8:28 over someone's head and say, "Buck up, little camper!" like "...The mob who are reeling in the throes of all the happiness they've got.") The song is a contrast: "This is what feels true but remember Him..."
The song is for people who just can't say right now, "When I am sad, He makes me glad!" Or "I've quit my struggles, contentment at last..." Those statements are all based on absolute, bedrock truth: "Jesus is all the world..." and "Jesus is Lord of all." But remember Job's friends, who came and simply sat silently with him for a whole week (Job 2:11-13). They understood, "What about the time when even followers get lost? 'Cause we all get lost sometimes." For a time, anyway. :) We all know how God had to take them to task for misrepresenting Him and His ways.

This song acknowledges the feelings that deep grief can produce, but then takes them captive to the obedience of Christ and considers Him, regaining hope by looking not at what is seen, but at what is unseen. That's why the sun appears behind the clouds when he sings, "The aching may remain, but the breaking does not..." Because the Son is always there, hearing, listening, interceding. And whatever furnace of trial we're in, as Warren Wiersbe says, God keeps His eye on the thermometer and His hand on the thermostat.

Stephanie says, "I've been a child of God for 29 years, a wife for 11 years, and a mom for 2 years to two children we're hoping to adopt from the foster system. I used to be a counselor and Bible teacher, and I used to write a blog. These days, I counsel little hearts, teach my babies to love and memorize the Word of God, and my writing consists of modeling the ABC's for a preschooler who's dying to write. Lots of things have grown my faith over the years, but not much has shaken it like infertility, other chronic health issues, and motherhood, and I'm thankful that God has proven Himself faithful and merciful over and over again. I do all this from a tiny corner in Colorado where my family serves with Village Missions, a missions organization whose purpose is to strengthen and establish healthy Biblical churches in North America, primarily in rural areas."