When God is Silent

I cry to you and you do not answer me; I stand, and you merely look at me.     
Job 30:20, NRSV

This verse from Job is a powerful and, perhaps, surprising one to find in the pages of Scripture. Job lost his children, possessions and wealth and was covered in sores. He’d fallen from a position of having all these so-called ‘blessings’ that indicated he must be righteous to a situation where his friends wondered what on earth he’d done to deserve such a great misfortune. Job knew the truth. It was not because of his sinlessness or sinfulness that he deserved either successes or disasters. Yet that didn’t stop the pain from being pain or the disasters from being disasters and he had more grief with which to contend than I can get my head around.
So Job laments. He cries out. He does not try to cling to faltering hopes where he’d believed in certain characteristics of God. He opens his heart–even though it contains anger, contempt and feelings of alienation from God–and he gives word to those feelings. He prays. Not prayers we’d expect to hear in church. Prayers of lament: “ Where are you, God? Why don’t you respond? Why don’t you act? ” Like Jesus prayed on the Cross: “ My God, My God, why have you forsaken me? ” (Mark 15:34)
There is a lot in the world that would invite this kind of lament. From the continually rising COVID-19 death rate, to increasing numbers of lay-offs, closings of businesses, and more recent protests and ever-deepening frustration at the way in which racial injustice continues to plague our life together.
I don’t know where your heart is today. You may have faith to pray confidently for the end of any of the above. If you have, please continue to do so! Yet if you’re faltering, if your heart is heavy, if you are wondering just where on earth God is in all of the above, then tell Him . Lay it out before Him. Make Job’s words your own. Even if He feels a million miles away, He isn’t. He cares. He loves. And He will rescue.
The Rev. Dr. Suse E. McBay
Associate for Adult Christian Education and Prayer Ministries