How long, O Lord, must I call for help, but you do not listen? Or cry out to you, “Violence!” but you do not save? Habakkuk 1:2
For years, Verizon has sold their cell phone service with an advertising campaign that asks, “Can you hear me now?” There’s nothing more frustrating than a dropped call in the middle of conversation. Imagine that happening when you’re talking to the Lord. Can you hear me now, Lord? Habakkuk cries out, “O Lord, must I call for help, but you do not listen?”
Has God ever trusted you with his silence? Yes, sometimes God actually uses divine silence to draw us into a deeper intimacy with him.
I know, I know. That sounds a little strange and contrary to how we experience most relationships. For example, if I choose to give my wife the silent treatment, or vice versa, we will grow apart. Communication is essential in marriage. Silence actually drives a deep wedge between a husband and wife. But God’s ways are not ours. Sometimes he uses silence as a way of saying, “Trust me! I have everything under control.”
At other times, God’s silence is an indication that something is awry in our relationship with him. Indeed, he cannot hear us when sin has caused a breach in our fellowship with him. Psalm 66:18 says, “If I regard iniquity in my heart the Lord will not hear me.” That’s a scary verse of Scripture. God remains deaf to our prayers when sin reigns in our life.
The words “how long” in verse 2 suggest that Habakkuk had been struggling with God’s silence for some time. C.S. Lewis once remarked that when he prayed there were times as though heaven “bolted and double-bolted its doors.”
Habakkuk is not the only person in Scripture that had to endure seasons of divine silence. The psalmist David cried out “how long” four times in Psalm 13. “How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and every day have sorrow in my heart? How long will my enemy triumph over me?”
Think about it. King David, the man after God’s own heart, struggled with the Almighty’s silence. Both he and the prophet Habakkuk wondered, “God, are you there? Can you hear me now?”
It shouldn’t surprise us that when God is silent doubts begin to flood our soul. But that’s the time to move closer to him, resisting the urge to drift away.