Why do you accuse God of not answering anyone? God does speak—sometimes one way and sometimes another—even though people may not understand it. He speaks in a dream or a vision of the night when people are in a deep sleep, lying on their beds. He speaks in their ears and frightens them with warnings to turn them away from doing wrong and to keep them from being proud. [Job 33:13-17 (NCV)]
While sorting through comic strips I’d saved, I came across an old Beetle Bailey (written by Greg and Mort Walker). In it, the inept General Halftrack approaches the chaplain and says, “I’d like to talk to God like you do, but when I try to talk to him, He doesn’t answer.” Chaplain Stainglass replies, “Maybe you’ve been calling the wrong number!” Indeed, sometimes the silence seems deafening when we call on God but I don’t think it’s because we’ve called the wrong number. The general simply may have hung up too quickly! Abraham determinedly pled for the city of Sodom, Hannah untiringly prayed for a son, Elijah persisted in praying for rain, and the Syrophoenician woman stubbornly begged Jesus to heal her daughter. They continued to call and God answered them all! Then again, maybe the General was so busy talking, that he didn’t hear God answer him!
The General may have missed the answer because he didn’t recognize God’s voice. Perhaps he expected to hear an audible voice as did Moses in the meeting tent or Paul on the road to Damascus. Maybe the general imagined God’s words would come from an angel as they did to Mary and the shepherds long ago. Most of us, however, will have neither a face-to-face meeting with God nor an encounter with a host of angels. It’s more likely that God will use the voices of other believers when He talks to us as He did with the prophets to Israel and Judah, Jethro to Moses, Samuel to Saul, and Paul to Timothy.
Nature and natural events are another way God speaks. The thunder, lightning, quaking and smoke at Mt. Sinai certainly made God’s presence clear to the Israelites. He spoke through both a flood and a rainbow to Noah and a star to the Magi. Because God has a specific plan for our lives, we also will find God’s voice in our circumstances. When, like the Israelites, we find ourselves between an army and the sea or a rock and a hard place, He may be telling us to trust Him. If, like Jonah, we end up in the belly of a whale, He might be teaching us about obedience. Sometimes God’s even speaks through the supernatural as He did to Gideon with the fleece, to Moses with the burning bush, to Balaam with a talking donkey, and to King Belshazzar with writing on the wall.
Dreams and visions are another way God speaks. It was in a dream that God told Abimelech that Sarah was Abraham’s wife and a vision led Ananias to visit Paul. In one dream, Jacob saw angels ascending and descending from a ladder and, in another, God told him to return home. It was through Joseph’s dreams God spoke to him and through Pharaoh’s dreams that Joseph knew of Egypt’s future famine.
God also He speaks to us through the Holy Spirit. While some refer to Him as that “still small voice,” the Holy Spirit is anything but still or small when He points out our sins or has an assignment for us. Speaking to our hearts and often through our conscience, the Holy Spirit helps us discern God’s will, convicts us when we go astray, and gives us a sense of peace when we’ve taken the right path.
Perhaps the General forgot that God already provided him with plenty of answers in the Bible. All of scripture is God-breathed and His word is filled with wisdom and guidance. The words of Jesus are as relevant today as they were over 2,000 years ago. We, however, have to do our part by reading those words!
Like the General, we all have times when it seems God is away from his desk and ignoring our calls. The problem isn’t with God; it’s with us. We’re just not listening with our ears, eyes and hearts!