God is at Work Even When He's Silent
Dr. Paul Dean is a pastor, cultural commentator, and author. He serves as a Regional Mentor with the International Association of Biblical Counselors, speaks at several conferences throughout the year, and provides training for ministers and churches on a regular basis. Paul resides in the Upstate of South Carolina with his wife and three children.
- 2019 Sep 20
“I believe in the sun even when it’s not shining, and I believe in love even when I don’t feel it, and I believe in God even when He’s silent.” That line was found scratched on a wall in a cellar in Germany after World War II. You can feel the anguish, but you can also feel the faith; the certainty that God was at work despite the atrocities of Hitler, the Nazis, and man’s inhumanity to man. Sometimes God is silent, for whatever the reason, but that doesn’t mean He’s not at work. It doesn’t mean He’s left you. It doesn’t mean He doesn’t care. I’m reminded of the book of Esther. God is never mentioned in the book, yet it’s all about His work behind the scenes to deliver His people; it’s about the reality that God is at work even when He’s silent. Let’s think a little.
First, God is at work even though His people may be suffering. You may be going through an extremely difficult time right now. No one quite knows the pain you bear, though what you’re facing is common enough (1 Cor. 10:13). You may wonder if God has forgotten you. While it may not feel like it, the truth is He hasn’t. A young Jewish girl named Esther lost her parents when she was very young. She was taken in by her cousin Mordecai and taught the things of God. As a teenager, she was abducted by the Persian King Ahasuerus along with four-hundred other young girls and made a sex slave. She ultimately became Queen, but not of her own will. She was forced to sleep with the King, as all the other girls were, and she was chosen to be Queen because the King liked her the best. Don’t get confused about what happened to her. Her real-life tragedy was no Cinderella story. To make matters worse, not long after she became Queen, as a result of the nefarious influence of a man named Haman, a decree was issued that all the Jews would be put to death. I have no doubt Esther wondered many times whether God had abandoned her. We’re told the Jews were in hopeless anguish and mourning when they heard the evil decree. And yet, God was at work. Despite and even through the wickedness of Ahasuerus, God had made Esther Queen, and she would be an instrument of deliverance for God’s people. Despite and even through your suffering, God is at work. You may not see how, but He is, and you can trust Him.
Second, we live in a culture where our government is increasingly hostile to Christians. We don’t suffer like some believers have in the past or do in other countries, but the writing is on the wall; things are only going to get worse. I’m often asked whether God has abandoned America or His church. Well, God’s blessings have overflowed to America in many ways as He has blessed His church in America. Yet the church often goes through hard times for different reasons. It’s part of His means of making her what she should be. And God has indeed given America over to her sin, but He has not and will never abandon His people: the church. God is at work even though evil men are in power, whether we’re talking about Hitler, King Ahasuerus, or the US government.
Third, God is at work even when all appears to be hopeless. When Haman was about to persuade the King to issue the murderous decree against God’s people, what hope did the Jews have? They were powerless against the King’s army who would carry his decree without mercy. What influence did any of them have on the King? None. But God had a plan. He used the King’s anger to remove Queen Vashti. He used the King’s lust to make Esther Queen. He used Esther to foil the homicidal plot hatched by Haman. And God knows what’s ahead in your life. It may be something you’re powerless to do anything about, and your situation may appear hopeless. But God’s already taken steps to work it for your good (Rom. 8:28). That doesn’t mean we won’t face terrible circumstances. But it does mean that God will use them for our spiritual benefit, every time. “Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God; For I shall yet praise Him, the help of my countenance and my God (Ps. 42:11).
Fourth, God is at work even when you are actually in sin. Many of the Jews in Esther’s day were in Babylon when they should have been back in Israel. They had been taken captive because of sin, but God had promised their return. Even Esther and Mordecai had stayed and made many compromises with Babylonian culture. There were many parts of the law they simply didn’t observe. How many times have I made compromises with our culture? How often have I willfully sinned against God? How about you? And yet, just as God’s faithfulness is on display in Esther’s life and in the lives of the Jews in Babylon, His faithfulness is on display in our lives as well. Think about what Paul says to Timothy, “This is a faithful saying, for if we died with Him, we shall also live with Him. If we endure, we shall also reign with Him. If we deny Him, He also will deny us. If we are faithless, He remains faithful; He cannot deny Himself” (2 Tim. 2:11-13). Yes, if one proves he doesn’t know Christ, then Christ will deny him – “I never knew you.” But, if we are simply weak, if we have doubts, if we sin against God, the good news is that God remains faithful. That’s who He is, and, He can’t deny those He’s purchased with His own blood. Even when you sin God is at work to help you repent and move forward.
Fifth, God is at work even though He may be keeping silent. Maybe you’re in the dark right now. You search God’s word and find no answers. But don’t give up on Him. Neither Esther nor Mordecai heard from God. The Jews didn’t hear from God. As noted, God is not mentioned anywhere in the book. But He was at work. We see it in Esther’s life. We see it in Mordecai’s life. And you will see it in your life. See His faithfulness as He draws you close to Himself in and through your trials. God doesn’t promise us health and wealth. But He does promise healing for our souls and riches in Christ. Remember, your faith in Christ is more precious than gold (1 Pet. 1:7), the testing of your faith produces endurance (Jas. 1:3), and “the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us” (Rom. 8:18). Do you believe in the sun even when it’s not shining? Then believe in God even when He’s silent.