We know that God whispers…the whisper of a baby born in a stable on a quiet December night…the whisper of a resurrected Lord appearing to a couple of women and a small group of disciples. And we know that our God is a God of surprises, speaking to us when we least expect it. Elijah listened in all the mighty places for the voice of God, never imagining it would come as a gentle whisper. And it’s been my experience that if we’re faithful to our time spent in sacred silence—through prayer, meditation, or anything that helps us shut out the noisy world—we’ll start to be surprised by God, too.
God speaks to us in so many ways – through what we may describe as “gut feelings”, through the events in our lives, through the voices of others, through our children, images in nature, our dreams…the possibilities are endless. And the more time you spend with God, the more tuned in you’ll become to His messages in all areas of your life, and at any time of day. Eight years ago, while attending a weekend retreat for women, I spent the entire time trying to figure out what God might be whispering to me. I couldn’t quite grasp onto anything, until the last morning, when a vision popped into my head. I was standing up in a church, talking to a group of people. Just as quickly, the image was gone. Puzzled by this unexpected vision, I tried to figure out what it might mean. Does God want me to sign up to be a lector at Mass? It was the best I could come up with. Ten minutes later, my friend Annie came over to me and said, “I really want to plan an afternoon retreat for the women of our parish. Would you help me?” In an instant, my vision made absolute sense to me, and I knew I had heard the voice of God. And I’ve been giving retreats to parish groups every since!
You probably all have stories of times when you knew you heard God speaking to you in one way or another, even if you didn’t realize it was Him until well after the fact. Maybe it was a dream, a vision, or the words of a friend that suddenly hit home. Or a Sunday sermon that you felt was speaking directly to you. Many people find messages from God through nature or works of art. It’s different for everyone.
But what about those times when we do everything in our power to listen to God, and He is silent? God’s silence can be very unsettling. We can’t explain it, and we almost feel betrayed by it.
During these times of darkness and confusion, it’s more important than ever to listen quietly, and wait for the Lord. For He will reveal himself in His own way and at His own time. Remember, God’s silence doesn’t mean He isn’t present or active in our lives. Don’t give up, or assume that God has abandoned you. For you will likely find that a period of Divine silence will bring you to a place of closer intimacy with our loving Creator. God is preparing you for something…or bringing you to a place of revelation. There’s something God wants you to learn, even if you’re not sure what it is right now.
Keep praying. Keep listening. Pay attention.
It takes tremendous faith, but we must believe that God has a purpose in our waiting, and we’ll discover that purpose in time. As author Denise George so beautifully puts it in her book God’s Gentle Whisper:
“If we listen hard enough, we can hear God’s gentle oft spoken whisper: Dear daughter, I have a reason for My silence, You are Mine, and because you are Mine, I can trust you with My silence. Wait, be still… and know.”
Questions for Reflection:
- Has there ever been a time when you knew you had heard the voice of God, even if you didn’t realize it until after the fact? How did you hear God’s whisper? Was it through a “gut feeling,” a vision, or maybe the words of a friend or someone in your life? What was God saying to you, and how did you respond to His whisper?
- Has there ever been a time when you strained desperately to hear God’s voice, and He was silent? What was that experience like for you? Have you reached a point where you now understand the reason for His silence?
If you’d like, post your thoughts below!