The Grace of God’s Silence

One of the questions that’s hard to address when talking to hurting people is the fact that God doesn’t exhaustively answer all our questions. The book of Job is a book containing 37 chapters worth of questions, speculations and deep pondering on the issue of suffering. The best philosophies that tackle the question of pain were explored in this lengthy book so much that one could almost expect that God was bound to explain Himself. He didn’t. Towards the end of the book, all Job got was an interesting enumeration of the wonders of creation.

The frustration of not getting exhaustive answers from God has haunted humanity for centuries on end. We want our lives to revolve around laws and principles and concepts we can wrap our heads around on. We want clear cut definitions. When we don’t get that kind of clarity, we either question God or become indifferent of Him. But is getting exhaustive answers really necessary? Does a good explanation guarantee that we will feel less pain, even if the explanation came from God? I think not. As Tullian Tchividjian wrote, information is seldom enough to heal a wounded heart.

Mark Galli, in his book God Wins, has an interesting insight about how Jesus identified with our suffering on the cross. It still doesn’t answer the question of pain but at least it’s comforting to know the grace that comes with God’s silence.

All our uncertainties about God’s justice and love are summed up in a single question, the one Jesus asks on our behalf as he hangs from the cross: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” In this question, all our anguished questions about God’s goodness come together.

Does God forsake us? Is he indifferent to our suffering? Can he be trusted?

Jesus, representing us on the cross, as true man, is asking all that and more on our behalf. And God’s response?

Silence.

When God hears this question, a question that examines his very goodness, he does not strike back or walk away in disgust. He simply absorbs the question in loving silence—the silence of forgiveness. The same forgiveness that’s available to cover every question we’ve ever asked or will ever ask, especially those questions that are nothing but a demand for a sign or an attempt to justify ourselves.