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Building the Calvary family into a dwelling for God by reflecting on Sunday's sermon text together.

Surprised By Silence

After three years of kindred spirit friendship and walking with the Lord together, Augie told me he was done with God.  At first I was speechless.  Then I fumbled with my words in a frantic effort to get Augie to change his mind.  All I could think of was reciting lyrics from a song that helped me when I doubted that God was really there: "Seeking you as a precious jewel; Lord, to give up, I'd be a fool."  I was sure that Augie had experienced God's loving-kindness.  How could he just give up because of a season of doubt?  Surely God meant more to him than those seasonal relationships that come and go.  I'll never forget his response: "Joe, that's not good enough."

Augie's story came to mind while meditating on Saul's response to God's silence in 1 Samuel 28:6.  Saul was driven to his wit's end when the Philistines came with everything they had (I guess he did not expect such a bold attack) (1 Sam 28:5).  In a panic Saul did what I think Augie probably did (and what most of us would do for that matter), he called out to the Lord.  But, the Lord did not answer!

There are several places in Scripture where the Lord responds to cries for help with silence.  I will divide these situations up into two groups (by no means is this list exhaustive):

1.  This first group of passages describe God's silence toward those who disregard his commands and live independently of Him.  "If I had cherished iniquity in my heart, the Lord would not have listened" (Psalm 66:18).  "You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions" (James 4:3).  See also Ezekiel 20:3; Isaiah 59:2 and Proverbs 28:9.

2.  The second group of passages seem to depict God the Father applying loving discipline for the purpose of spiritual growth.  "Give ear to my words, O Lord; consider my groaning. Give attention to the sound of my cry, my King and my God, for to you do I pray" (Psalm 5:1-2).  See also Psalm 6:1-3 and Hebrews 12:3-6.

According to the Bible, people should not be surprised by the Lord's silence.  But, in reality, we almost always are.  When the Lord did not answer Saul, he abandoned God for a conjurer of the dead and the things such a person could offer.  Augie did not here from the Lord so he left Him to find hope elsewhere.  Even David did not here from the Lord.  David groaned; he flooded his bed with tears and cried out to the Lord, "How long?"  And then he waited patiently for the Lord (Psalm 40:1).

Saul's reaction to turn elsewhere for what only the Lord could provide is human.  We are prone to wander when God surprises us with silence.  But no trial has seized us that is not common to all of God's people.  And just as God helped David patiently endure His sanctifying silence, so He will also help us endure! (1 Corinthians 10:13)

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