It’s not easy being Christian…or I imagine a person of faith in any religion. As Christians we are called into a deep and powerful relationship with a loving and merciful God, yet in a world that seems anything but loving and merciful. I would venture to guess that there are few self-proclaimed Christians who, when deeply honest with themselves, haven’t asked the question, “Where are you God?”
Sadly, too often this question, once asked, consumes the believer with guilt and shame; doubt and embarrassment. And yet? The very Word of God, the Bible contains these very pleas for God to speak. So if the Israelites, Judges, Psalmists, Prophets, and Jesus himself beg for God to speak, why do we so harshly judge ourselves, our own longing for God to speak, act and be present in the world differently than what we are currently experiencing?
“Hear me oh Lord!”
“Lord, answer me.”
Google ’em. Both are all over the scripture. These are the prayers, the pleas, the longings and the cries of the faithful to our God when all we experience is silence. In reading Endo’s Silence I was reminded of how pervasive the guilt and shame can be when we do question God’s perceived silence and inaction in the face of suffering and death in the world.
So here’s my confession:
Do I believe God is speaking, acting and present in this world? Yes. Absolutely.
Are there days, so many, many days (seasons even) that I long for, pray for and plead with God to behave differently? Absolutely!
The truth is, some days God’s work through me, my neighbors and humanity just isn’t enough for me. I want something different. I want the big cataclysmic divine intervention. On those days I struggle to have faith that God’s work through ordinary people, leading ordinary lives is enough. I try but it’s hard and I am often left wanting.
I do NOT believe God is silent or inactive in this world, but to experience that silence, that inaction is a fair, and I would say faithful, response to being in relationship to the world and to God. There is no shame in it. There is no guilt to be divvied out, it is simply part of the seasons of a faithful life. Living a life of faith will require us to live through seasons where God seems far off, distant, silent. I know I have had such season which is why I am grateful to be part of the body of Christ. So when I am experiencing God’s silence another is able to hold the truth that God is speaking and acting. Praise be to God!
Goodreads review of Silence by Shusaku Endo.