What to Do When God Seems Silent - Lessons From Habakkuk
How long, O LORD, must I call for help, but you do not listen?
Or cry out to you, "Violence!" but you do not save?
God's silence may be one of the most confusing things about the Christian life. When you think about how believers worldwide have been praying for an end to Covid or that God will reverse the destructive direction our nation is heading, it seems like God isn't listening. Things are getting worse, not better. And so we want to know what to do when God seems silent.
Critical Race Theory and Transgenderism are now being taught in many schools. Doctors can perform abortion up until the time of birth, and our religious freedoms are at stake like never before. Everywhere we look, we see our country going in a direction that doesn't please God. Why isn't He doing anything about it?
Maybe you have been dealing with an illness or the loss of a loved one. Maybe your child walked away from their faith, or your father has rebuffed your attempts to share Christ with him. Why has God not answered? Why must you go through this pain?
Habukkuk felt the same way. As a prophet of God, he cared deeply for the people of Judah, and it hurt him terribly to see all the destruction going on. Judah was in chaos, and Habukkuk was confused by why God didn't seem to be doing anything about the evil and injustice.
Listen to Habakkuk as he continues with His complaint to God in verses 3-4:
Why do you make me look at injustice? Why do you tolerate wrong? Destruction and violence are before me; there is strife, and conflict abounds. Therefore the law is paralyzed, and justice never prevails. The wicked hem in the righteous so that justice is perverted.
When I read these verses, my first thought was, "It sounds like He is talking about America." So what are we supposed to do when we feel like Habakkuk did?
Persevere When You Haven't Received an Answer
Habakkuk was weary. He was confused. But instead of giving up, he continued to cry out to God. That's called persevering. And the Bible says in Luke 18:1 that He wants believers always to pray and never give up. He wants us to persist even when we don't understand.
God wants us to be like the persistent widow in a parable Jesus told one day. The reason He told this parable was so they wouldn't give up praying. You can find it in Luke 18:2-5:
There was a judge in a certain city who neither feared God nor cared about people. A widow of that city came to him repeatedly, saying, "Give me justice in this dispute with my enemy." the judge ignored her for a while, but finally he said to himself, "I don't fear God or care about people, but this woman is driving me crazy. I'm going to see that she gets justice because she is wearing me out with her constant requests."
Jesus goes on to explain how the parable relates to God as a righteous judge. He tells us if an unjust judge who doesn't fear God or care about people will give in to persistence, then how much more will God, who loves both people and justice, answer our prayers.
Expect God to Answer in His Time and in His Way
Letting God respond in His time isn't that easy. In fact, it can be downright difficult. It's saying, "God doesn't have to move on my timetable; He doesn't have to bow to my wishes. God is God, and I am not."
In Isaiah 55:8-9, God says something very important about Himself, "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are my ways your ways," declares the Lord. "As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts."
Did you catch that? God says His ways and thoughts are higher than your ways and thoughts. And not just by a little bit, but by as much as the heavens are higher than the earth. That's more than we can comprehend; it's more than Habakkuk could comprehend.
God did not owe Habakkuk an answer or explanation right then just because he wanted one. He especially didn't have to give Habakkuk the answer he wanted to hear. The same is true for us. God is not beholden to us. We are the creatures, the pot, so to speak (Is 64:8). He is the Creator, the Potter, and the One in charge.
If you expect Him to run His plans by you to make sure you are okay with what He is doing, you will be disappointed. It sounds a little ridiculous when we put it that way, and yet, isn't that often how we think? Don't we say to ourselves, "If I were God, this is what I would do." And we unconsciously believe God should do the very thing we would do.
If I was God, I'm pretty sure I would do what seemed right to me at the time. But because I couldn't see the big picture and because I wasn't all-knowing, my judgment would be flawed. I would make decisions based on emotion and what I wanted or thought was best, but not really on what I knew was best.
Isn't it a good thing that we aren't God or that God doesn't bow to our wishes? If we could tell God what to do, wouldn't that make Him more like a magic genie than God Almighty?
Anticipate Being Confused By God's Ways
Because God's ways aren't your ways, you are going to be confused. That's okay. Habakkuk was confused too. But instead of giving up, he continued to pray and make his case to God. Maybe he was trying to persuade God based on who he knew God to be, but he was also willing to stay in confusion and let God be God.
As a Christian, shouldn't we be like Habakkuk? Shouldn't we continue to make our case to God even if we are confused by His ways? He is our hope, and just because we don't understand, it doesn't mean He isn't doing anything.
Have you ever considered it might be a good thing that we are confused by God's ways? Would you really want God to be reduced to One You could understand? If we could understand God, He wouldn't be that different from us; He wouldn't be worthy of our worship.
God is okay with you coming to Him for understanding. He's okay with your complaints when you're confused. God is even okay with you trying to persuade Him based on who He is. God knows you are human. He remembers you are dust (Ps 103:14).
He also knows His ways are higher, and there is no way for you to completely understand what He is doing if He hasn't told you.
If your confusion is about the evil you see happening or the chaos and destruction in the world, it's right to be angry; it's right to want God to intervene.
Stay Angry at Increasing Rebellion and Injustice
Habakkuk was angry with what he saw. And he even seemed frustrated with God because of what God made him see and wasn't doing anything about. Remember what Habakkuk said:
Habakkuk 1:3-4 Why do you make me look at injustice? Why do you tolerate wrong? Destruction and violence are before me; there is strife and conflict abounds. Therefore the law is paralyzed,
and justice never prevails. The wicked hem in the righteous so that justice is perverted.
When you are tempted to give up or give in, do neither. It's right to be angry at injustice and increasing rebellion. Maybe Habakkuk was also tempted to give up or give in. As I listened to Pastor Jon Benzinger speak on this very subject, he said, "If Habakkuk had done this, we wouldn't have this book." God is angry at sin. So shouldn't we be too?
Habakkuk went to God. So should we. When you see injustice, exploitation, brutality, cruelty, the guilty going free and the innocent being punished, the powerful gaining strength through ungodly methods, lies being promoted as fact, then you should be angry and take it to God.
There is much to be angry about in our country today. Know that God is angry too. And He expects you to be mad at the injustice, the sin, and the suffering. But He also expects you to take your anger to Him and leave it with Him.
The Bible Knowledge Commentary says about the book of Habakkuk, "This little book is as contemporary as the morning newspaper." Indeed it is!
Do you want to know what to do when God seems silent? Remember the four ways we just talked about:
Persevere when you haven't received an answer
Expect God to answer in His time and in His way
Anticipate being confused by God's ways
Stay angry at increasing rebellion and injustice
And by doing these four things, we are saying, "I trust You, God. I may not understand what You are doing, and it may seem like You are being silent, but only because I see things from my perspective, not Yours. Your ways are higher, and that's a good thing. Thank You for being God."
I hope this blog has encouraged or blessed you in some way. If it has, or you have any other thoughts, please leave a short comment below. I love to hear from my readers.