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When God Gives You the Silent Treatment

Rev. Margaret Minnicks is an ordained Bible teacher. She writes many articles that are Bible lessons.


Don't find it strange when you experience periods when God seems silent and far away from you? One thing is true for sure. God might be silent, but He is always near. His promise to never leave you should be remembered. That's why it is promised so many times throughout the Bible.

Many of the great men in the Bible felt the pain of feeling the same way because of God's silence toward them. There are reasons people go through times when God is silent in the lives of His people, and you just might be one of them.

Great Men in the Bible Felt God's Silence

Great men in the Bible experienced God's silence. They felt the pain and the anguish when they did not hear from God.

Those great men included Abraham who waited and waited for God to give him a son like He had promised not once but twice. However, God remained silent for 25 years before delivering on that promise.

God remained silent while Joseph was stuck in an Egyptian prison for a crime he did not commit. God did not speak to Elijah while he hid in a cave.

God remained silent during Job's ordeal when he begged God to "show Himself."

David begged God not to be silent on many occasions in the Psalms.

Throughout Habakkuk's book, he questioned God about His silence. God remained silent until He was ready to speak.


Abraham and Sarah

When Abraham was 75 years old, God told him he would become the father of many nations. At the time, Abraham had no son. In fact, he had no child at all and he was beyond child-bearing years. Fifteen years later, when Abraham was 90, God renewed his promise. That means God told Abraham twice that he would have a son. On a separate occasion, he told Sarah that she would be a mother. Sarah laughed when she told her.

Abraham and Sarah endured God's silence while waiting for the son they had been promised. They waited patiently and received what was promised when Abraham was 100 years old and Sarah was 90.

Why was God silent for so long? He was working things out according to His plan. It was 25 years later, but it happened in the fullness of time.



The story of Joseph is found in Genesis 37-50. Those are a lot of chapters from the time Joseph was sold into slavery by his own brothers was he was 17 until he heard from God. Joseph spent 13 years in prison in Egypt for a crime he did not commit. While Joseph was in prison, he continued to serve God. However, God was silent toward Joseph until the time was fulfilled for him to be released.

Even though Joseph did not hear from God, God was grooming Joseph for something very special. In the fullness of time, God allowed Joseph to interpret Pharaoh's dream and he became the second in command in Egypt.


Elijah was a prophet of many miracles. He had demonstrated courage before Ahab and had called down fire on Mount Carmel.

His flaw was that he was afraid that Ahad's wicked wife, Jezebel would carry out her threat to kill all the prophets. Elijah ran to the desert where he hid. Because he did not hear from God in the desert, Elijah went to Horeb, the mountain of God where he found refuge in a cave.

Elijah desperately needed to hear from God, but God was silent for a very long time. When God finally spoke, it was a question, “Why are you here Elijah?” Elijah is told to come out of the cave and stand before the Lord. Elijah looked for God in the wind, in the earthquake, and in the fire, but God was not in either one of those things. Instead, Elijah heard God in a still small voice. He was told to anoint Elisha his successor. Then Elijah was translated to heaven.

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Job was a just man who was also rich in land, animals and he had ten children. Then Job lost all he had and he ended up sitting on the ash heap surrounded by his three friends.

For the first few days, Job sat in silence and so did his friends. When the man covered in sore finally spoke, so did his friends. They insisted Job must have done something wrong to deserve all that had happened to him.

Then Job began to question God. However, God remained silent until he was ready to speak. God answered Job's questions with questions of his own.



David is the writer of 73 of the 150 psalms. In many of them, David cried out to God because God was silent. God spoke in the fullness of time.

  • O Lord, you have seen this: be not silent. Do not be far from me, O Lord. (Psalm 35:22)
  • O God, do not remain quiet; do not be silent and, O God, do not be still. (Psalm 83:1)
  • O God of my praise, do not be silent! (Psalm 109:1)

Why are you silent when the wicked swallow up those more righteous than they? (Habakkuk 1:13)


The book of Habakkuk is known as a book of questions. That's because throughout the entire book of only three chapters, the minor prophet Habakkuk questioned God about His silence. If you read the book, you will see a lot of "Whys." Yet God remained silent.

  • Chapter 1 - Habakkuk is perplexed and asks God a series of questions. God remains silent.
  • Chapter 2 - God answers Habakkuk but not in the way the prophet expected.
  • Chapter 3 - Habakkuk prays and thanks God.

Between the Old Testament and the New Testament, God remained silent for 400 years known as the Intertestamental Period when God spoke to no prophet after Malachi because of the disobedience of His people.

After 400 years, God broke His silence with the birth of John the Baptist who came crying in the wilderness.

Zechariah and Elizabeth

There was a good reason God was silent in the lives of Zechariah and his wife Elizabeth who were devout people. They were both old, and Elizabeth was barren. They prayed fervently for a male child, but God was silent. After many years of being childless, Zechariah was performing his priestly duties in the temple. God revealed to him that he would father a son. Zechariah was so struck with the news that he didn't speak again until his son John the Baptist was born.

During the silent years, God was waiting for the fullness of time for Jesus to be born and John the Baptist had to be born just ahead of Jesus to be his forerunner. If John the Baptist had been born long before or long after Jesus, he would not have fit into God's plans for him to be the forerunner in four different areas: birth, preaching, baptizing and death.



God and Jesus had an intimate relationship. Jesus sought His Father about everything He did. We know that on many occasions according to the Gospels, Jesus withdrew from people to be alone with His Father and pray.

Jesus’ silence is a major theme in the Gospels, but did God ever keep silent when it came to Jesus? The Bible records in Matthew 27:46 that while Jesus was on the cross, Jesus cried out, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" It is obvious that Jesus was experiencing God's silence at that particular time. However, the silence did not last because Jesus died and God resurrected Him from the dead on the third day. Jesus is now sitting at the right hand of His Father making intercessions for us when we go through phases of God's silence.



In the Gospel of Luke, we learn that Simeon, the priest in the temple, waited his whole life to see the promised Messiah. God had told him long before that he would not die until he had seen the Christ. Then when Mary and Joseph brought Jesus into the temple to be blessed, Simeon lifted him up and said he could die in peace because God had not been silent, but was waiting for the fullness of time, according to Luke 2:25-35.



Anna's story is found in just three verses in Luke 2:36-38. She was a widow after having been married only seven years. She was now 84 years old. She never left the temple but stayed there night and day worshiping, fasting and praying. Her desire was to see the baby Jesus.

When Mary went to the temple to be purified after giving birth and for Jesus to be presented, Anna was able to see the baby after waiting so many years while God was silent.


You have seen from the examples above that God was silent with the patriarchs to fulfill His purpose when the time was right. God keeps silent with His people today for some of the same reasons. He waits to "break His silence" at a time when it will do the greatest good.

God is with us even when He is silent. It is at those times that we need to know that God is not at a distance but right there with us. He is silent for a reason, but when He speaks, He speaks volumes.

Just because God is silent does not mean that He is not working behind the scenes to perfect those things that concern us. He will break His silence in the fullness of time.

Remember, there is always a purpose for God's silence.

Reasons God Seems Silent

God's silence is not His absence.

God is silent to check your trust level.

God is watching and waiting to see how you will handle His silence.

God's silence might mean He is working behind the scene on your behalf.


Mary on September 15, 2018:

God is not giving us the silent treatment, He is preparing Greater for us. In St. John 14: I go away to prepare us for you and I will come back for you. Therefore, while you are waiting prepare yourself a strong fortress in Lord and encourage others to do the same.

Margaret Minnicks (author) from Richmond, VA on January 14, 2018:

Thanks, Louise Powles, for reading and commenting on my articles. I am glad you are engaging them.

Louise Powles from Norfolk, England on January 14, 2018:

I love reading your articles. They are always so encouraging. Thankyou. =)

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