Mr. Mouw begins by describing a tragedy that happened to parishioners in a church. As the minister was expressing his lack of ability to understand the situation, one of the family members said, “Minister, no stranger did this to us.” The point was that they understood who was ultimately behind their loss… their loving friendly God. He went on to say that their faith in God was being tested… not undermined.
“There is no escaping the pain of suffering and the tormenting questions of God’s silence. In the end however, there is a gap… however close… between human beings and God and we cannot understand His intentions or design. Therefore we continue to pray.”
“When Jesus went to the cross on Calvary… He cried out, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’ and there was no answer. The Father was silent. The silence of heaven at Calvary was not, however, the silence of indifference.”
“It is as C.S. Lewis wrote regarding his confusion about the death of his wife: When I lay these questions before God I get no answer. But a rather special sort of ‘no answer.’ It is not a locked door. It is more like a silent, certainly not uncompassionate, gaze. As though He shook His head not in refusal but waiving the question (saying), ‘Peace, child; you don’t understand.'”
Mr. Mouw then talked about a friend who lost his mother, wife, and young daughter in an accident. After a period of struggling his friend confided in him…
“My loss made God seem terrifying and inscrutable. For a long time I saw Him as a towering cliff in winter- icy, cold, and windswept… It loomed over me, completely oblivious to my presence and pain… I yelled at God to acknowledge my suffering and take responsibility for it, but all I heard was the lonely echo of my voice.”
His friend continued, “…The incarnation means that God cares so much that He chose to become human and suffer loss, though He never had to. I have grieved long, hard, and intensely. But I have found comfort in knowing that God, who is in control of everything, is the same God who experienced the same thing I do every day. No matter how deep the pit into which I descend, I keep finding God there.”
Then the author himself writes, “There’s (one) thing I’ve learned to do. I look at the cross. When I remind myself of what happened at Calvary, I know in the deep places that God’s ‘no answer’ is not a shutting the door but a compassionate, sorrowful gaze. Then, after a while– sometimes it takes quite a while– I can sing praise songs again.”
My conclusion. Just because God is silent doesn’t mean He isn’t listening or that He doesn’t care or doesn’t understand. It simply means I don’t understand his inscrutible ways and I continue to go to Him in prayer… knowing that there is a loving, caring, One who gazes at me knowing that one day I’ll be with Him rejoicing in the very thing I don’t now understand.