Ask Dr. Swindoll: How Do You Respond When God is Silent?
Several times a year, Dr. Swindoll preaches in chapel at DTS and engages in a question-and-answer time with prospective students. Here are some of the questions he answered recently.
What advice would you give to anyone who is dealing with a ministry whose doctrine no longer centers on Christ?
There is nothing like modeling the truth to communicate the value of truth. For those who lead, your model is all important. Just preaching, or criticizing, or pointing a finger, as you know, will do nothing. Here are three things you can start doing:
- First of all, the most powerful thing you can do is pray. Pray for a breakthrough. God is full of surprises. It is amazing how he will have the right people, in the right place, at just the right time to be of influence—especially in times of trouble.
- In your prayer, ask God to raise up a small group who know and will model the truth.
- Be open to opportunities for this group to influence the decision-makers because when you lead the leaders, in most cultures, you will ultimately reach the followers.
God is sometimes silent. How do you respond when he seems absent? What do you do when you find yourself in the middle of God’s silence?
I wish I had a quick and simple answer to this question. It’s a tough test for sure. Cynthia and I have waited on God for about two and a half years for something we would love to see the Lord handle. But he’s not chosen to answer our request yet and waiting for that requires enormous patience—a constant spirit of prayer and a willingness to leave it with him, refusing to worry!
Otherwise, when panic and fear set in, the temptation to get in the middle of it and “fix it” will only make a mess of things. I’ve done that before and even though it seemed like I was making the best of it, it wasn’t the Lord’s answer. We can learn from Job, Paul, and from others who have waited on God. How long did Abraham wait for the promise of a son? And . . . can you remember what happened when he went ahead of God’s plan?
The best thing anyone can do is to wait and pray. God wants to reveal his will to us and teach us while we wait. To do that we must dig deeply into his Word. We need to hold on to the passages of Scripture that bring us comfort and insight.
Some of us may not live to see the answer to our prayers. We have to reconcile ourselves to that because he is God and we are not. We often act as if we are too efficient, too capable, and we forget God. We stumble over our own talent and over the noise we make when we should quietly wait. Believers who are maturing not only respect God’s silence, they model it as well. So we must wait patiently, in the silence, for the Lord to step in . . . in his time and way.
About the Contributors
Charles R. Swindoll
Charles R. Swindoll has devoted his life to the accurate, practical teaching and application of God’s Word and His grace. A pastor at heart, Chuck has served as the founder and senior pastor-teacher of Stonebriar Community Church in Frisco, Texas. His leadership as president and now Chancellor Emeritus of Dallas Theological Seminary has helped prepare and equip a new generation for ministry. Chuck and his wife Cynthia, have four grown children, ten grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren.