I’m not a big fan of sea travel. In my younger years, I experienced travelling in rough seas both on a big ship and on a fastcraft. Not only is travelling in bad sea conditions uncomfortable – even inside a big, wave-ready ship – it’s pretty scary too. Whenever I think of travelling on a perilous sea, I always picture Jesus Christ’s Apostles desperately navigating the overwhelming waves and – perhaps with hopelessness and disbelief – reaching out to their Master and asking, “Carest thou not that we perish?”
Whenever I remember that account from the New Testament, I can’t help but wonder, “How could they doubt their safety and help when Christ Himself was with them?” The answer only recently hit me: Don’t we all need assurance? Isn’t it so easy to falter in our faith, especially at times when God seems to be so silent? Isn’t it so easy to doubt when the much needed balm in Gilead doesn’t come?”
There were times in my life when members bore powerful testimonies of miracles they had seen in their lives, and it made me wonder what was happening with my life. Why is it that sometimes, I don’t get powerful answers to my prayers, especially when I need them the most?
Challenges and trials are a part of our earthly life. Through our personal experiences, and the testimonies of others who have gone through challenges, we gain a personal testimony of how the Lord comforts those who stand in need of comfort. But there will be times when we experience the silence of heaven – times when the succor we so desperately need to help us stay afloat through the smashing waves just doesn’t come. In God’s silence, we can also cry out “Master, carest Thou not that we perish?”
“Master, carest Thou not that my depression and anxiety are slowly consuming me?”
“Master, carest Thou not that my illness doesn’t seem to have a cure?”
“Master, carest Thou not that my righteous goals seem to be so unachievable?”
“Master, carest Thou not that nobody seems to understand how painful it is to lose a spouse or a child?”
Fear can easily replace faith when towering waves threaten us in our journey. As we brave the enormous waves crashing against our boats, we may frantically look for help only to realize that the Lord has not really left our boat. He is right beside us on our rough journey. There are times when God is silent to help strengthen our faith, but He is still with us.
Like every well-meaning parent, the Lord sometimes chooses to be silent, not because He doesn’t love us or feels that we’re unworthy of His love and mercy. His silence – in a way – is an expression of His love.
God’s silence helps us develop the faith to simply do what we can do
When my son started walking, I made sure I was with him every step of the way. Time passed and his baby steps turned into big leaps – leaps that caused him to sometimes fall down. I remember how one fall caused him to cry harder than usual. Instead of pulling him up, I watched what he would do next. Eventually – still crying – he rose up without my help, and began smiling again.
The Lord sent us here to “prove [us] herewith” – this includes letting us make our own choices. Like a wise parent, the Lord won’t always hoist us up, but instead lets us find out for ourselves what we should do. Simply moving forward despite the storm – even through God’s silence – will help us develop stronger faith and testimonies.
God’s silence helps us trust in His timetable
The Prophet Joseph Smith experienced incredibly heavy trials and tribulations during the early days of the Church. Struggling under the weight of these trials, the Prophet prayed, as recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 121. In his desperation, the Prophet cried out “O God, where art Thou? And where is the pavilion that covereth Thy hiding place?”
However, in an interesting response, the Lord did not tell him when all his afflictions would end. Instead, the Lord reminded him that all the challenges he was going through would be for his own good. During that time, the Lord comforted him, but He also asked the Prophet to “endure it well.” This powerful example shows that the Lord – in His infinite mercy – is always there to help. But His help does not always mean we will have a hardship-free life. In His silence, the Lord teaches us to trust His timetable, to hold on to faith, and to endure our afflictions well. All of our challenges will come to an end – but we need to trust the Lord first.
When God is silent, He helps us reach out and hold on to Him more
God’s silence allows us to assess our relationship with Him. Did we take a few steps away from Him? Have we truly taken the time to listen? Do we truly understand how He speaks to us? Experiencing silence from the heavens helps us reach out to and listen to the Lord more.
“Master the Tempest is Raging” – a hymn inspired by the account from Matthew 8 – bears a powerful line: “No waters can swallow the ship where lies the Master of ocean, and earth, and skies.” No matter how high the waves are, or how vicious the sea is, you will be able to endure your afflictions as long as you turn to the Lord. He may be silent now, but in His own time, He will rise and calm the storms and winds of your life. Trust God’s silence.