Trusting Through the Silence

September 13, 2023

By William B. McGrath

Throughout our lives, it is almost a given that there will arise some critical situations. If you’re a Christian, you will instinctively want to tell the Lord all about it and try to leave those issues that you can’t do anything about with Him. It unburdens your heart when you can take it all to Him and then simply believe and trust in His faithfulness. Yet sometimes the wait can be long, and ever more contrary voices and contrary circumstances can arise during your wait. There have been times when it has seemed that God has just left me alone.

There are various accounts in the Bible of individuals who kept their faith despite such feelings, such silence, and contrary circumstance.

It has ever been and always will be the Father’s will that we trust only Him. God demands to be called the Almighty; He insists we place our confidence in Him. … He has made it clear in His dealings with men that all power is His, and He will not share His glory with any other: “Neither fear ye their fear, nor be afraid, [but] sanctify the Lord of hosts himself” (Isaiah 8:12–13). And not only in the midst of a marvelous display of His might. In the darkest hour, in the least likely circumstances, faith must run to the Father with praise for His greatness.—William Gurnall 1

Reviewing accounts in the Bible helps me to strengthen my faith when I am in an extensive waiting period or surrounded by contrary voices or thoughts.

God was displeased with Zacharias when he voiced doubt concerning the decree of God’s angel. Zacharias had asked the angel how his wife could have a child, being so old herself, and he was struck dumb (Luke 1:18–20). We find other accounts in the Bible where it would seem that God purposely chose difficult circumstances in which to fulfill His plans and to prove His power to be well above human endeavor.

God could have chosen to bring the Children of Israel out of Egypt while Joseph had favor in the king’s court. Then their departure would have been without much difficulty.

Mary and Martha were both godly women, but when Jesus didn’t show up to heal their brother Lazarus until days after his death, they both voiced doubt. “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died” (John 11:32); “Lord, by this time there is a stench, for he has been dead four days” (John 11:39). As with Martha and Mary, I know my faith can easily weaken when time passes and things seem to only grow worse. But the ideal is to go on trusting and to persist in holding strong faith, despite the circumstances.

His Word teaches us to “be strong in the faith” (Romans 4:20), and this same Word tells us to “look to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross … so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted” (Hebrews 12:2–3). Faith gives me deep joy and deep trust.

In John 17 I read that Jesus’ will for me is to know His Father’s love. And I see clearly in the Bible that my heavenly Father keeps His promises. He is a covenant-keeping Father, who willingly shares abundantly with all His children. By humble repentance we are instantly received into God’s family, and we are given promises that His strength will be given to us, in order that we might complete our earthly pilgrimage. It doesn’t really matter if some of my earthly brothers and sisters have wonderful talents, and some, like myself, might seem to be without so many; we are all accepted of the Beloved (Ephesians 1:6), and it’s only through His grace that any of us can carry on. God has sworn His oath to us, that each one of us who flee to Him for refuge will have strong consolation (Hebrews 6:17–18).

So, I always try to remember that God expects me to hang on and continue to trust Him, though He may at times seem to be silent toward me or allow me to be faced with difficult circumstances.

There are other accounts in the Bible that encourage me along these lines. When the Canaanite woman came pleading to Jesus for mercy for her daughter who was “vexed with a devil,” we read that Jesus “answered her not a word.” But she persisted anyway, and then worshipped Him. Then, it would seem, Jesus discouraged her further, by telling her in so many words that she is an outsider. She takes another step of humility in the way she continues with her request. And then Jesus says: “‘O woman, great is thy faith: be it unto thee even as thou wilt.’ And her daughter was made whole from that very hour” (Matthew 15:21–28). The only other time Jesus commended someone for their great faith is when He commended the Roman centurion, who was also very much an outsider, but who likewise demonstrated humility (Matthew 8:5–13).

One last account I love to remember is that of Naaman, the captain of the Syrian army, a real outsider (2 Kings 5). Like Naaman, as a young man, after I had learned about God’s spiritual family with brothers and sisters, I wanted to see God do something “special” for me. But I've found that God always works on our behalf as we obey His will the best we can, and like Naaman and others, we are willing to do the humble thing; to persist in humble obedience, even through the long waits when God might seem to be silent, or when we are somehow buffeted with discouragement and/or disapproval. Like Naaman, I may have thought at one time that I could be some sort of special “trophy” for God’s family, but I know now that I was really always an outsider, seeking refuge and finding mercy in my Savior.

1 The Christian in Complete Armour, Vol. 1, 1658.

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