Suffering often distorts our perception of God. C.S. Lewis, when he was grieving his wife’s death, wrote that God “seemed to have his eyes shut, his ears stopped with wax.” After going through a crisis of faith, during which he doubted all that he had ever believed about God and Christ, Lewis went on to observe that “you can’t see anything properly when your eyes are blurred with tears.”
Despite the numbing deafness and blindness brought on my suffering, God doesn’t change. He is still present. He is still reaching out, still speaking His love to us. But He may be speaking in a way that we don’t expect. So consider the different ways God speaks to us. Perhaps you’ll discover that He has been speaking all along.
God can Speak in a Still, Small Voice
The prophet Elijah had seen God work in mighty ways, and, as we sometimes do, expected God to speak with a thunderous voice. When his life was threatened by a vengeful queen and God seemed to do nothing, Elijah gave up all hope. God found him hiding in a mountain cave and said,”‘Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.’ Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave” (1 Kings 19:11-3). Elijah recognized the quiet whisper as the voice of God, and he listened as God spoke to him and told him what to do next.
God can speak through His Spirit
God’s spirit has always been God’s mouthpiece to those who follow Him. In the Old Testament we read, “O people of Zion, who live in Jerusalem, you will weep no more. How gracious he will be when you cry for help! As soon as he hears, he will answer you…Whether you turn to the right or the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it'” (Isaiah 30:19-21). And in John 16:13, Jesus made a solemn promise to His disciples: “But when he, the Spirit of truth. He will no speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come.”
God Can Speak Through His Word
“All scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16).
God’s primary way of speaking to us is through His Word. Scripture is more than simply words on paper. Hebrews 4:12 says is alive and powerful. When we read it, God can speak to us through a story or a passage, confirming our direction, challenging our thinking, correcting our behavior, or encouraging us in our struggles.
God Can Speak Through His People
“Perfume and incense bring joy to the heart, and the pleasantness of one’s friend springs from his earnest counsel” (Proverbs 27:9).
When we feel that God is distant, when He seems silent, He may send us physical and tangible proof that He not only hears us but is actively working to meet our greater need for love and encouragement. How does He do this? He does it through the Body of Christ, through the hands and feet, the hugs and tears of His children. God knows that we need His love and grace more than we need His answers. That’s why His followers are commanded to “use whatever gift [they have] received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms” (1 Peter 4:10).
God Can Speak Through His Creation
The awesome beauty and complexity of God’s creation has always testified of His greatness and love. Job 36:26-37:5 gives us just a glimpse of how God speaks through His creation. “How great is God – beyond our understanding! The number of his years is past finding out. He draws up the drops of water, which distill as rain to the streams; the clouds pour down their moisture and abundant showers fall on mankind. Who can understand how he spreads out the clouds, how he thunders from his pavilion? See how he scatters his lightning about him, bathing the depths of the sea. This is the way he governs the nations and provides food in abundance. He fills his hands with lightning and commands it to strike its mark. His thunder announces the coming storm; even the cattle make known its approach. At this my heart pounds and leaps from its place. LIsten! Listen to the roar of his voice, to the rumbling that comes from his mouth. He unleashes his lightning beneath the whole heaven and sends it to the ends of the earth. After that comes the sound of his roar; he thunders with his majestic voice. When his voice resounds, he holds nothing back. God’s voice thunders in marvelous ways; he does great things beyond our understanding.”
God Can Speak Through Circumstances
Sometimes the events of life are a visible testimony to what God is doing. Jesus told His disciples to “Look at the fig tree and all the trees. When they sprout leaves, you can see for yourselves and know that summer is near. Even so, when you see these things happening, you know that the kingdom of God is near” (Luke 21:29-31 [italics added]).