My hair loves nothing better than a good stripping. Thick and curly, shampoo and conditioner quickly weigh down my ebony tresses, pulling out the curl and giving me enough frizz to make me wonder if I’m related to a lion (some days, our manes would be comparable). Tea tree oil shampoo and apple cider vinegar become my best friends as they strip away the buildup in my hair from good things like conditioner. In the same way that my hair needs a periodic stripping and reset, so does my soul.

Silence is the shampoo that strips our souls and washes away the crusty buildup deposited on our hearts by life’s trials. Silence before the Lord can be uncomfortable. But even more so when the Lord remains silent waiting for us to become silent — it can be extremely frustrating to the point of anguish.

This past winter, the Lord took me through a season of intense pain and heartbreak and when I needed Him the most, Heaven seemed silent. Used to a vibrant walk with the Lord, full of beautiful communication, a season of silence was one of the most unnerving and heart-wrenching things I ever walked through. I felt abandoned by the Father in my darkest hour as my cries and prayers seemed to bounce off the ceiling and crash back over me. Why was He silent?

I’d walked with the Lord long enough to know that He had heard me, and yet He was still silent. In My Utmost for His Highest, Oswald Chambers presents the idea that as we mature in Christ, the Lord begins to trust us with His silence. Much like good friends who have been through a lot together, they can come to a place of comfortable silence because they understand each other. They don’t need constant communication because they know each other’s hearts.

The Trust of Silence

Silence was not something I wanted to be trusted with, but the Lord knows what we need when we don’t. Theologian Walter Brueggemann states that:

“Sometimes praise can be a manifestation of our doubt. God wants to silence us to get to the root of what’s really going on.”

We are often taught that when we are struggling, we need to pray and praise more – fake it till we make it. While there is a place for choosing to worship and praise because He is worthy even when we don’t feel like it, there also comes a time when the Lord wants to deal with the depths of our heart. He does this through silence. We can get so busy praising Him because it’s the right thing to do, that our praise actually becomes a cover-up for our doubt and pain.

Silence strips away all of our attempts to grin and bear it. In His mercy and goodness towards us, He removes  our noble attempts to fix ourselves.  In order to heal the root of our pain and anxiety in our heart, He introduces silence.

The Lord already knows what is in our heart – silence from Heaven is God’s way of revealing to us what He already knows. The Father’s silence towards us reveals, strips, and clears the way for us to become the silent ones before Him. The place where He can begin to speak to us again. Song writer Jason Upton explains it this way in his song Silence:

“I’d rather stand here speechless, With no great words to say, If my silence is more truthful,  And my ears can hear how to walk in your way. In the silence You are speaking, In the quiet I can feel the fire. And it’s burning, burning deeply, Burning all that it is that you desire to be silent, in me.”

The Lord’s silence is not punishment – it’s His invitation to intimacy and trust.

All throughout the Psalms, David admonishes his soul to be silent before the Lord. The practice of silence is soul detox.

For God alone my soul waits in silence; from him comes my salvation. Psalm 62:3

For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from him. Psalm 62:5

A time to tear, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak. Ecclesiastes 3:7

For thus said the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel,
“In returning and rest you shall be saved;
in quietness and in trust shall be your strength. Isaiah 30:15

His silence speaks more than our words.

In the silence, the hushed quietness of God, I need to listen beyond myself, because He is still speaking. The flowers are still blooming, the stars still shining, the earth still rotating. Satan is still waging war on mankind, still playing his games with death and lies and theft. And God is still battling for the heart of His creation. For your heart. For mine.
-Natasha Metzler in How to Survive God’s Silence

Photo Credit: Natasha Metzler

9 Comments

  1. I found this blog post the other day when I was searching for the Walter Brueggemann quote to use in my most recent blog post “The Silence.” It’s crazy, because what you wrote about sounds similar to the season the Lord just walked me through as well, coincidentally in the Winter. It’s amazing how He takes us through the same seasons in unique ways to us, and at the same time He speaks to others through our journey and helps us to give them hope for their season. Thank you for this. You’re reaching people with your story, and it’s amazing. Blessings and grace to you. 🙂

  2. I decided to do research on what it means for praise to sometimes be a manifestation of our doubt. And I begin reading this article and it mentions the curls and parallel of needing to strip and cleanse the hair every once in a while. And initially I thought I opened the wrong article, because I am a Curly Hair Specialist so I thought I opened the wrong tab doing research. But it’s right and such a great way to explain it, I understand it so well!!! I thank you for this so much! Praise God for your life!

  3. Phil Manthey says:

    Thank you, Katie.

    I’d been up in the wee hours of the morning in distress of body and soul, just seeking the Lord, reaching in the dark for the hem of his garment, desiring the return of the familiar smell of the myhhr and aloes…stuck in the dreadful cul-de-sac of seeing myself and not Him. It’s like exhuming a body periodically: what do I expect, that it’s condition will improve?

    My Beloved shone a ray of light into my darkness in the form of the memory of an entry from Chambers My Utmost For His Highest. The accompanying Scripture was the passage from Isaiah 30, “In returning and rest shall you be saved…”

    Somehow in this search (not having found the Chambers entry yet) I stumbled into this site of yours, and read your words.

    Thank you so much, Sister. The Lover of my soul has sent relief. It’s amazing how one moment a great host of complexities can be vexing the soul, and the next moment we can lie down in safety. It’s not that the particulars of solutions to our problems have been made known to us. It is, rather, the sight of Father running to us, ring and robe in hand, when we but turn toward home.

    But sometimes we can know all of this, and still must wait for the relief to come in His time. This time, in the trembling of the night watch, He ran to my aid quickly.

    He used your site and your words. I wanted to tell you this right away, and to thank you for being here.

    PS: I just realized this is a women’s site! Please forgive my ignorance. I still would like to post my thanks to you, but I do not request or expect a reply. I’m going to tell my dear wife, Linda, about your location here, and she can take over as my blessed female half. Lord bless you.

    1. Phil,
      Thank you so much for your encouragement! It was a tremendous blessing to me that you were blessed by this. I was having a bad day myself wondering why I was where I was, and the Lord used you commenting on this to encourage me that He has a purpose for my struggles too. I pray the Lord continues to encourage you. This is the link to Chamber’s writing I referred to in the post. Perhaps it was the one you were looking for? http://utmost.org/god’s-silence—-then-what/ I do hope Linda will be encouraged by what she reads here! (Linda if you are reading this – welcome!) 🙂

  4. This is so encouraging to me, Katie. Thank you so very much for writing this–and I noticed it plays so well with Natasha’s recent blog series. <3

  5. Last year was really hard for me. I went through a time where God seemed silent. You put into words the lessons I learned.

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