When God Is Silent – for Katharine Welby-Roberts

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“I want to say it loudly: the claim that you will always feel God’s peace during suffering is a myth. No matter how mature a Christian you are, sometimes you suffer and God feels desperately absent. Sometimes there’s an explanation in hindsight. Sometimes there’s a lesson learned from it. But sometimes there’s just silence and mystery.”

I’m thrilled to be the second contributor to Katharine Welby-Roberts’ new series, Walking Alongside. This one’s a little vulnerable for me – I’m exploring the whole question of God’s presence (or lack thereof) during times of suffering.

Won’t you come along with me there and read it?

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3 Responses to When God Is Silent – for Katharine Welby-Roberts

  1. Jonathan Sutton 15th June, 2016 at 5:03 am #

    Maybe you already know this, but I’ll mention that God’s absence or seeming absence is very prominent indeed in the poetry of priest and poet R.S.Thomas (1913-2000), who personally wrestled with this greatly during the decades that he himself worked as a parish priest. A pretty good spread of his work is available in “Selected Poems, 1946-1968”, R.S. Thomas, published by Granada. New collections of his poems came out right into his late years too., e.g. “Mass for Hard Times” which came out in 1992 and “No Truce with the Furies” in 1995.To offset the poems which express his wrestling with the sense of God’s absence there is his very short – and more celebratory -poem ‘The Moor’, in the collection mentioned here. Its last lines are: “… I walked on, simple and poor, While the air crumbled and broke on me, generously as bread.”

  2. Monika Bucher 14th June, 2016 at 10:56 pm #

    Dear Tanya, once again, thank you for your honesty! That’s what makes you REAL and I often think a lot of us Christians put up a front/mask and are not open about our struggles. While you may feel mostly silence from God, one can certainly see His refiner’s fire working on you and putting that gold on the thorns!
    At times I have felt/wondered where He is too. There’s one thing that has helped me recently and may sound weird: Instead of thinking ‘God’, I picture Jesus, second person of the Trinity and slowly go through Psalm 23, imagining myself beside Him, lying in the green pasture at His feet, feeling His arms around me. And as I go through this Psalm verse by verse like this, peace does seem to come to me. Maybe because Jesus suffered too and therefore knows, what suffering is? Just a thought.
    The most important thing is, and you are doing this, to not let go of God, even when He seems silent and distant. Thanks again for sharing your heart :). God bless you!

  3. Emilie 14th June, 2016 at 9:17 pm #

    Wow. Thank you. I actually told one of the only pastors I trust with my endo story that she could pray for my latest complication but I felt like if God cared, He would have done something by now. To her credit, she just made sympathetic noises and promised to pray. If I’d said that to most other pastors I know, I’d have gotten some version of, “But God is most present when we’re suffering! He doesn’t promise to heal us, but He’s always right there with anyone going through anything!” I want that to be my story, as I’m sure you do too. I’ve found Phyllis Tickle’s Divine Hours books on fixed-hour prayer to be wonderful in this time because I can still pray and encounter God through scripture, liturgy, and the writings of others, but it’s not dependent on my “feeling” Him there, because most of the time I don’t. And your blog, whenever you get a chance to update it, has been a source of deep comfort. Please know that.

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