The Silent Treatment
Have you ever got the silent treatment?
You know the icy-est of cold shoulders?
The rapid construction of that invisible but oh so noticeable wall where nothing seemingly gets in and nothing gets out?
It is the emotional state where “I am so seething mad with you right now, I refuse to even waste my breathe in your direction!”.
Yes, the silent treatment.
It’s never nice.
It causes the mind to race, the heart to accelerate and your mood to slump as you try to locate the absent-minded / foolish / thought-less cause you are somehow responsible for.
The silent treatment is a war-zone conducted by emotional and psychological guerrilla warfare; and you don’t know how to fit it!
Help Me Hear from God!
We all hate the silent treatment and the sense of rejection it brings. No one would suggest it is great way of resolving conflict, but it happens. We are familiar with it. And, for some of us, we fear it.
In my years of ministry, one of the common issues people have asked for ministry and prayer on is help in hearing from God. Although they have prayed, sometimes fasted, and all desperately sought the Lord, it seems He is not speaking. He is silent.
Can you relate to this?
What is often not said, but inferred, in these conversations is “Is God giving me the silent treatment?”
I’ve been there, I know.
You desperately want any answer from God. You are waiting on Him. You want to hear His voice. You want to do what’s right. You want to be lead by His Spirit. And yet, nothing.
It can be frustrating, even painful. But it needn’t be. It is certainly NOT God giving you the silent treatment.
So What Happens When God is Silent?
The mistake we often make is the assumption that God’s silence is a sign of his disapproval. But that is not the case.
One of the most profound verses I know of is found in Psalm 46:10a. It says:
“Be still, and know that I am God…
To me this cuts right through our busy, noisy, hyper-active way of life.
“Be still, and know that I am God.”
In your busy-ness you expect microwave results. You expect things to happen according to your timeline and schedule. But the exhortation we have here is to stop, be still, and be quiet.
Now we are ready to KNOW the ways and wonder of our God.
How do you know you really know someone? When you can sit in times of silence with them, without any need to talk. Relationships that are strong and deep and intimate, don’t find that silence awkward and needing to be pierced by talk. Just sitting and being with them is enough.
And so it is with us and God.
Author and Speaker Graham Cooke has a great insight on this, that challenges how we see times of silence with God. He says:
“God is often silent. This silence doesn’t mean disapproval; in fact, when God is quiet it is generally an indication that He is happy with us. He doesn’t need to constantly reassure His mature sons and daughters when they are doing well; He just lets us be until we look like we’re heading off track.”
What to do when God is silent?
There are many unknowns in our walk with God. But that’s ok. Relationship with Him is about discovery. Discovering who He is and knowing Him, even in the silence.
Changing how we see times of silence with God is one thing. But there are times we still need to act, to decide, to make a call. What do we do then?
Here is a list of things you can do when God is silent. It’s not exhaustive, or prescriptive, but I pray it would be helpful:
- What has God last said to you? Go with that
- Maybe God is leaving the decision with you — He trusts you
- What is God teaching you out of this silence? That is what He wants you to know
- Take it as a “green light”. He wil let you know if you are in the wrong.
- See as God saying you don’t need any more confirmation. Step out in faith.
- There is no testimony without a test. This is going to turn out as a blessing to you
- Stop. Let go. Give it to Him. Enjoy His presence.
WHAT Do you do when you can’t hear God’s voice? LEAVE a comment and share your experience.