Summary: I doubt there’s a person here who hasn't had a dark night experience when God didn’t seem to hear your desperate cry for help or answers. Worse than that it seemed he broke contact with you and you felt dreadfully alone.
“When God Seems Silent”
Exodus 32:1-7 (The Message)
The story is told of six WWII Navy pilots who left their aircraft carrier on a mission. After searching for enemy submarines, they tried to return to their ship shortly after dark. But the captain ordered a blackout of all lights on the ship. The frantic pilots radioed repeatedly asking for just one light so they could see to land. They were told that the blackout could not be lifted. After several appeals the ship’s radio was turned off and they broke communication with the pilots. The end result led to the pilots crashing in the ocean.
I doubt there’s a person here who hasn't had a dark night experience when God didn’t seem to hear your desperate cry for help or answers. Worse than that it seemed he broke contact with you and you felt dreadfully alone.
When these times come to us, we go through stages of questions, anger, frustration, doubt and fear. When we feel these things we become vulnerable to behaving in ways we thought could never be possible for us. We’re not that different to the people in our text. Let’s consider some of their regretful and dangerous responses when God seems silent – or even absent – and learn through their lives.
Looking to our text, one of the first warnings leads us to consider that they gave in to
1. Desecrating their relationship with God
God’s people were in transition. Theirs was a situation of significant change. For 400 years their forefathers endured oppressive manual labour and extremely cruel and abusive bosses. However they did have places to sleep and food to eat. This generation in our text was born in slavery so they’d been use to leaders always present, always giving orders, always guiding them. As they set out on a journey never imagined, to a land only a dream, everything is different. Having now spent six weeks without their leader, Moses, who had been in a mountain talking to God, they yearned for the way things were. Old habits die hard. They went to Aaron, God’s chosen priest and practiced idol worship which was very common in their land of captivity.
They complained that Moses was “taking forever” (v1). The people questioned Moses’ leadership. When his decision-making did not sit well with the people their idea of fixing the problem was ditch the leader; find someone else or something else to replace him. Negative attitudes toward God’s leadership team tend to have repercussions on our relationship with God, especially when that leadership sincerely seeks to follow God’s direction. The fallout for rejecting God-appointed leaders is huge.
Leaders are critical to the success of any ministry or corporate structure. I well recall the shift in the International and National political climates when the office changed hands from President Clinton to President Bush and then to President Obama. My comment is not intended as negative toward one any more than positive toward another. It is simply to emphasize the value leadership plays in any given structure as leaders set the tone of the church, community or nation. Furthermore
We teeter in relationship with God when life doesn't make sense. C.S. Lewis, Irish Oxford Scholar and well-known author for his Narnia fiction series for children, wrote after the death of his wife, “Where is God? ...Go to Him when your need is desperate, when all other help is vain, and what do you find? A door slammed in your face, and a sound of bolting and double-bolting on the inside. After that, silence.” Lewis articulates what many of us feel when our world appears to be falling apart.
We are dangerously tempted to desecrate relationships when tough times are upon us. It happens to the best intentioned people, even people of outstanding character and commitment. Author John Ortberg captures our dark night that leads us to desecrate relationships. He writes, “When it is so easy to see God all around me (in trees, in birds, in nature), why is it so hard to feel his presence – especially when I need him most?” He goes on to speak of the winter of the soul, saying, “We need a way of holding on to God when it feels as if God has let go of us…The hardest part of winter is that God seems gone.” And so we crave God but he seems absent.
There are haunting questions and experiences that can make skeptics of the most faithful and resolved.
They gave in to
2. Desecrating behaviour
To make the point of how terrible desecrating behaviour is, I want to share with you the novel written by Peter De Vrie. The novel is called The Blood of the Lamb. It includes the story of Don Wanderhope, whose eleven year old daughter had leukemia. The bone marrow transplant was working toward his daughter’s remission when an infection swept through the ward and she died. Wanderhope had come to the hospital with a cake for his daughter, went back to the church where he prayed for her healing and threw the cake at the crucifix. The cake landed just below the crown of thorns and covered Jesus’ face in dripping, coloured icing.