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When God is silent in our darkest days, how do we respond? When life is falling apart, when we are devastated and cry out to our Father, yet His voice is mute, what do we do? Who is the silent God, and why doesn’t He speak when we need to hear His voice the most?
Jesus was the perfect, beloved Son of God. Did the Father always answer Him?
[Video Version below.]
And He withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and He knelt down and began to pray, saying, “Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Yours be done.” Now an angel from heaven appeared to Him, strengthening Him. And being in agony, He was praying very fervently; and His sweat became like drops of blood, falling down upon the ground]. Luke 22:41-44, NASB
In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus underwent His greatest test. He knew what was coming, He knew the physical pain that awaited Him, He knew the emotional agony of betrayal and rejection that lay ahead, and He knew that His eternal, intimate love relationship with His Father was about to be severed. He would be truly alone with no one in heaven or earth with Him at His point of greatest suffering. The stress was so great that His sweat became like blood. This is a medical condition called Hematidrosis.
Although hematidrosis is rare and the pathophysiology is still largely unknown, that does not mean hematidrosis does not exist. It is important to note that the most frequent trigger factors are either anxiety, fear, or excessive stress. World Journal Of Dermatology
There, in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus faced extreme stress. He did not want to experience the agony of the Cross and separation from His Father. He pleaded with His Father for another way to be found. I have heard sermons where it was said that the Father replied that there was no other way. While that is true - there was no other way - it recently occurred to me that we have no record that the Father actually replied to Jesus. God is silent.
Jesus was in such agony of spirit that He was sweating blood. He needed a word of encouragement from His Father. He needed to hear the voice of His Loved One, even if it was telling Him that He must go through the ordeal. Yet nothing. No encouraging words like, “You are My beloved Son…”. None. Silence.
While Luke records that in this great trial, an angel strengthened Him, the Voice He longed to hear was still. We don’t know if this angel was visibly present or only working behind the scenes, but we do know God is silent at this point. Jesus is alone. The temptation to sheer terror and panic hovered around Him, yet Jesus knew the will of the Father and was determined to follow the course He had agreed to in order to bring about our salvation. His failure would have been our damnation.
When God is quiet in your life, how do you respond? Do you question who is the silent God? Does He really love me? Should I give up? Sometimes, it feels like we are walking through the valley of the shadow of death alone. Sometimes, we wonder if Jesus really understands what we are going through. Sometimes, fear inspires a panic attack. Does Jesus know what that is like?
Jesus knew loneliness to a depth no living human being ever has. Only in Hell do people experience the terrifying loneliness of being separated from God. When God seems silent in your life, look to Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. No one has more desperately needed a word from God and not received it.
During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with fervent cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him and was designated by God to be high priest in the order of Melchizedek. Heb. 5:7-10, NIV
Jesus literally pleaded for His life. Notice that the Father did not ignore Him. He was heard because He was submissive to the Will of God. I am not sure the Father hears us when all we want is His stamp of approval on our plans. That was not true of Jesus. He was submissive to the plan of God.
Spiritually and intellectually, Jesus knew what the plan of God was; He knew what had to be done, and He knew there was no other way. Emotionally, He was horrified at the extreme suffering and separation He was about to endure. It was repulsive. At that point, nothing in Jesus wanted to go ahead with the plan He had agreed to. And God is silent. No word of encouragement. It was sheer, holy, stubborn obedience that caused Him to return to His sleeping disciples settled in His Spirit that He would go through with it.
Jesus was never disobedient. But faithful obedience can only be proved when an extremely desirable second choice exists. Jesus learned obedience through suffering. He proved his obedience by always choosing to please the Father no matter the cost. We learn obedience in the same way. When we know God’s will, but we have another much more desirable option, we know whether we are genuinely obedient sons and daughters. If God were not silent, it would not be a true test.
And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. Heb. 11:6, NIV
What is it that God wants to see in our lives? Faith. When we are in trouble, and God seems silent, it is an opportunity to prove our faith. Do we turn away from Him or to Him? Do we blame Him, or do we still worship? If we always felt the presence of God, we would not need faith.
Can we trust God even when God is silent? Jesus did. And He was rewarded to the highest position in the universe. We will be rewarded when we trust God even when He is silent and everything seems to be falling apart. God is faithful.
If you have never accepted Jesus as your Lord and Saviour, now is the time. Jesus understands everything you have ever gone through, and He knows everything you have ever done. Yet He opens His arms of love for you. Admit you have violated His Law, ask Him to forgive you, come into your life, and proclaim Him as your Lord. He will. Although you may sometimes feel alone, Jesus will never leave or forsake you. He is faithful. You can trust Him with your life.
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