Questions I Hope No One Asks: Why Is God So Silent?
by C Michael Patton
One of the most irritating things in the world is to be ignored. My kids are in the “ignoring phase” of their lives. They have discovered its power of irritation. However, Kylee is the one who stands out the most. When she is in a bad mood or has her attention set on something else, she will just ignore you. Well, she knows better than to ignore me, but she has no problem ignoring the other kids. It drives them crazy.
Ignore: v. the act of not responding to the calls of another when you know they are beckoning for your attention and you are able to respond.
The other day my three-year-old son Zach and I were talking about God and he said out of nowhere, “I don’t hear him.” ”Hear who?” I said. ”God. Why doesn’t he talk?” Now that is a good question. Just the type of question that you would expect from a child. It is reasonable enough.
I don’t know of anyone in this world that I have such a peculiar relationship with as the one I have with God. I talk to him, but I have never heard him respond. I don’t know what his voice sounds like. I can’t read his facial expressions. In no way have my five senses been alerted to his presence like they are with every other relationship I experience in life.
I doubt there is anyone, young or old, who has ever escaped the subject of “divine hiddenness.” Maybe you have not termed it as such, but you have often wondered why God does not reveal himself in a way that is more satisfactory to our longings for experiential intimacy with him. “With him” may not be the right way to put it. A better, more inclusive, way to say it for our purpose here would be that we long for experiential intimacy with “the other side”: God, Jesus, heaven, angels, demons, loved ones who have crossed the bridge of death, and the like. As someone has once said, “One out of every one people die.” These are pretty good odds. We know that one day we will die and experience that which awaits us beyond death. Yet this life is virtually void of definite signs from the “other side.” When we do get a sign, it is rather allusive. In a way, all we have to work from is what Phillip Yancey terms “rumors” of another world. There is quit a bit of mystery, even for Christians, as to what exactly ”the other side” will be like—what it will be like to see and hear God. This can scare us. In fact, it can scare us so badly that we avoid death at all costs and suspend our beliefs about God and the “other side” until after death.
Of course, as Christians, we do have faith that this “other world” is real and that heaven is an actual place where God awaits us. We also have faith that God, from this “other world,” has spoken to us through Scripture. Yet we long for an experiential intimacy that parallels the norms of our lives today. We want to hear the voice of God. We have questions for him. I have questions for him. We desire a sense experience that is often referred to as “empirical.” We want to see vivid signs of the other side that will solidify our faith and alleviate any residue of doubt that might does exist.
Is he ignoring us? Why is God so silent?
Wrong answer #1: God is not silent. I hear his voice all the time. The better Christian you are, the more you should expect to see his face and hear his voice.
As Christians, God’s silence—God’s hiddenness—should not come as any surprise. In other words, no one, no matter how good a Christian should expect to hear or see God. Yes, I might do things differently. Were I on God’s board of directors, I might give him some gentle encouragement to be a little more open to showing himself, especially to his own children. But the fact is that we should not expect to see God, hear God, or touch God in the way we so desire. If we did, the Christian worldview would be compromised as the Scripture tells us that our faith will not be verified though such empirical means…
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