A friend of mine has had a couple of years of struggle in a row. There isn’t anything major going on, but that’s the problem. She feels directionless, and God is strangely silent.
She’s been through a couple of jobs, patronizing bosses, and one who forgot to tell his employees that he was cutting their health insurance. He also forgot their paychecks a few months in a row.
She’s passionate. She loves people well, and she loves missions. She’s been all over the world, connecting with others who love Jesus and wanting to bring the freedom of God’s love to those suffering in countries with fewer resources.
But last year, there was no direction. No bright light. No “Aha!” moments. There aren’t this year, either.
I listened, I prayed. I didn’t know what to say or how to minister to her. I tried to encourage, and always promised to walk the long road of uncertainty with her. Still, I couldn’t perceive where she was.
After my own year of upside-down and backwards, of failed expectations, of dishonesty and distortion, I get it. God was strangely quiet in my own heart, too. It has been so uncomfortable, this feeling that things don’t fit. It’s a lot like looking at the world through those big black phoropters the ophthalmologist slides back and forth over your eyes: “This? Or this? Better? Worse? This one? Or this one?” And my answer: I don’t know.
I’m still walking slowly. My friend and I are still praying. We don’t doubt God because we’ve both watched Him work out the worst of circumstances and we trust He won’t stay silent forever.
Are you there, too? Here’s what I can offer you:
1. Stay Silent Yourself
In this wearisome season, it’s easy to fill the silence with noise just to hear yourself talk. Several times I’ve called out, “Hello? Hello?” just to hear the echoes reverberate back to me. Noise can be comforting and familiar, but it isn’t the answer.
I took 40 days of Still last month and although God offered no sweeping and outstanding answers, He ministered to me quietly in the hush. I'm learning to listen.
2. Look at What is in Your Hand
One autumn morning I sat in a friend’s warm South Carolina home, feet curled under me as we talked in beautiful layers about life. We spoke of noise and clutter and relationships and people and responsibilities. And then she said, “All I can do is what is in my hand.” A moment of clarity peeked through the fog for me. What is in my hand. In the 40 days of stillness, I came to realize that all God wants me to focus on is what is in my hand. Suddenly, all that seemed so out of focus and unclear came into a sharp convergence.
What is in my hand is all I get to see right now. I’m still dreaming and working, but my view and guide is what is in my hand. It’s uncomfortable for me. I like big ideas and grand plans and spreadsheets and to-do lists, but when it comes right down to it, all God is giving me this year is what is in my hand.
3. Remind Yourself
. . . of the gospel. Every day. Put your hope in what Jesus did and what He's saved you to. Our answers never come in the form of what we must do, but in what He has done.