Elijah had been used of God to hold back rain from the people for over three years, because of their sins. Obviously, he was not well liked as a preacher. I can imagine the stress he experienced during those years.
Something strikes me, however, that seems to further complicate Elijah’s situation.
Consider 1 Kings 18:1:
“After a long time, in the third year, the word of the LORD came to Elijah: “Go and present yourself to Ahab, and I will send rain on the land.”
According to a couple New Testament passages, this “After a long time” was actually three and a half years. The famine was three and a half years long. For three and a half years, the people apparently continued to sin, Elijah continued to hold on by faith, but God said nothing. God was apparently inactive… not speaking… even to His great servant Elijah during this time. (Speculation or Bible fact? Didn’t God answer prayer about food and water and shelter? The Widow of Zarephath incident and Elijah Raising the Widow’s Son, seem to indicate God was still talking to Elijah.)
Have you ever been there? Has the silence of God in your life ever been eerily strong?
Imagine you had been faithfully serving… God is using you… you are in constant communication with Him… and then suddenly… everything is quiet. You have to wait.
The separation must have seemed unbearable. Elijah is not liked and unpopular. He’s an outcast from the people and the One he trusted most was seemingly absent.
God would soon do a miracle through Elijah… one he couldn’t even imagine… certainly not script, but during this period all Elijah could do was wait.
If you have been follower of Christ very long, you have had periods where it seems God is nowhere to be found. We often call them periods of spiritual dryness. Sometimes I refer to it as being in a spiritual funk.
What should we do during the times of silence, before the miracles of God come through for us?
If you are like me, you can figure out how to celebrate a miracle. You don’t need much help doing that. The tough part of life is figuring out what to do during the years of silence… during the years when miracles are seemingly nowhere to be found.
What do we do during the spiritually dry periods of life when we don’t hear clearly the voice of God?
Here are 7 suggestions for those times:
Don’t ignore the silence – Some of the biggest moves God has made in my life have come after a period of spiritual dryness… when it seemed like God was doing nothing in my life. Stay very close to God and watch for Him to eventually display His power. He will in the fullness of time.
Confront known sin in your life – This wasn’t the problem of silence for Elijah, but the problem for the Israelites was that they were chasing after other gods and living lives in total disobedience to God. Sin may not be the reason you don’t sense closeness to God right now, but if you have known sin in your life it will affect your intimacy with God.
Go back to what you know – Get back to the basics of the faith that saved you. You’ll do it 100s of times in your life, but you must remind yourselves of the basis of faith… which is the very character and promises of God. God is in control. He really is… even when it doesn’t seem that He is anywhere to be found.
Make a decision… Choose sides – You can’t adequately serve God and the world. (Consider Joshua 24:15.) Something happens in life, often sin, busyness, boredom, or a tragedy… but if we are normal, we have periods where we grow away from our close relationship with God. God hasn’t moved, but if you’ve shifted in your obedience, get back securely on the right side.
Trust More… Not less – Times of silence may be filled with fear, but ironically, these times require more faith. Times come in our spiritual life when our enthusiasm isn’t as real as when we began our walk with God. That’s not an indication to quit… it may be that God is using that time for something bigger than you could have imagined… but whatever is next will most likely require a deeper level of trust.
Listen and Watch Closely – Some day God is going to make His plans known to you. Don’t miss them. He may come to your personally, through His Word, circumstances, or another person. You’ll need to be in a position to know that God is moving.
Get ready to receive – God will break the silence some day… and when He does it WILL be good. If you mope around in your sorrows, you’ll be less prepared to receive the good things to come. Not because of your circumstances, but because of your faith, clothe yourself in joy as you wait for God to bless you after the period of silence.
Are you in one of those periods of silence today? How do you handle these periods of time?