Today we are going to look at persevering while God remains silent. Yesterday we talked about God turning His face because of rebellion but there are also times when God is silent, even when we faithfully obey His word. God’s silence could be for testing and disciplining His servants. God could be silent as He waits to reveal His appointed time, which is according to His plan. The first part of this is to discern whether God has turned His face from you for rebellion or if He is silent while His plan unfolds for your life, and the church as a whole. You must understand whether you are following the true Jesus and His gospel or a different Jesus and other gospels. If you have committed to a denomination with very distinct doctrines, then God has turned His face from you. If you have repented and turned from those wicked ways and are seeking God, with all your heart, soul, mind and strength and His word is your life, and you are not going your own way, then God is silent, and you are being tested and disciplined for His purposes. Hebrews 12:5 “My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, 6 because the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.” 7 Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? 8 If you are not disciplined—and everyone undergoes discipline—then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all. 11 No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.” After being tested and disciplined God can then use us for His purposes. Peter tells us 1 Peter 4:2 “Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 13 But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. 14 If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. 15 If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler. 16 However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name.” Luke 6:22 “Blessed are you when people hate you, when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil, because of the Son of Man. 23 “Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven. For that is how their ancestors treated the prophets. Woe to you when everyone speaks well of you, for that is how their ancestors treated the false prophets.” Don’t be surprised when those around you don’t jump on board with you. Matthew 10:22 “You will be hated by everyone because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.” Here you have to be careful, because there are many who are not liked and persecuted who are following a different Jesus and other gospels. Make sure you test the spirits. 

        God’s silence can feel like God is nowhere to be seen and has completely forsaken you. Job shows us how to persevere when God is silent and when everything is taken from you and when all those around you try to get you to stop trusting God and turn away. It is important to understand that satan’s goal was to get Job to curse God, but not only Job, anyone who will fall for his deception. satan said to God, Job 1:11 “But now stretch out your hand and strike everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face.” Job 1:8 “The Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil.” satan believed he could get Job to curse God. After Job lost all His possessions, he said, Job 1:21 “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised. 22 In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing.” Then satan said, Job 2:4 “Skin for skin! A man will give all he has for his own life. 5 But now stretch out your hand and strike his flesh and bones, and he will surely curse you to your face.” The first person satan used to get Job to curse God, was Job’s wife. After Job became sick, she said Job 2:9 “Are you still maintaining your integrity? Curse God and die!” 10 He replied, “You are talking like a foolish woman. Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?” In all this, Job did not sin in what he said.” Then satan used Job’s three friends and their efforts to get Job to turn away from God and Job’s responses take up most of the book of Job. Then there is a portion with the young and arrogant Elihu. There are also family, strangers and towns folk who are also against Job. Job describes how his life was before all this happened to him. Job 29:7 “When I went to the gate of the city and took my seat in the public square, 8 the young men saw me and stepped aside and the old men rose to their feet; 9 the chief men refrained from speaking and covered their mouths with their hands.” He goes from that to this. Job 12:4 “I have become a laughingstock to my friends, though I called on God and he answered— a mere laughingstock, though righteous and blameless!” Job 30:1 “But now they mock me, men younger than I, whose fathers I would have disdained to put with my sheep dogs.” At the end we see that Job 42:11 “All his brothers and sisters and everyone who had known him before came and ate with him in his house. They comforted and consoled him over all the trouble the Lord had brought on him, and each one gave him a piece of silver and a gold ring.”

        Job knew what it was like to be blessed by God. He said Job 29:2 “How I long for the months gone by, for the days when God watched over me, 3 when his lamp shone on my head and by his light I walked through darkness! 4 Oh, for the days when I was in my prime, when God’s intimate friendship blessed my house, 5 when the Almighty was still with me and my children were around me, 6 when my path was drenched with cream and the rock poured out for me streams of olive oil.” But now everything was different. Job said, Job 13:20 “Only grant me these two things, God, and then I will not hide from you: 21 Withdraw your hand far from me, and stop frightening me with your terrors. 22 Then summon me and I will answer, or let me speak, and you reply to me. 23 How many wrongs and sins have I committed? Show me my offense and my sin. 24 Why do you hide your face and consider me your enemy?” Job did not understand what was happening. He also said Job 23:8 “if I go to the east, he is not there; if I go to the west, I do not find him. 9 When he is at work in the north, I do not see him; when he turns to the south, I catch no glimpse of him. 10 But he knows the way that I take; when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold. 11 My feet have closely followed his steps; I have kept to his way without turning aside. 12 I have not departed from the commands of his lips; I have treasured the words of his mouth more than my daily bread.” It turns out that God had not turned away from him because he had sinned, but God remained silent because He knew Job was blameless. 

        Job was totally on his own during this as everyone turned away from him or against him. Even so, Job remained faithful and did not turn away from God because as Job said, Job 19:25 “I know that my redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand on the earth. 26 And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God; 27 I myself will see him with my own eyes — I, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!” So Job was going to wait it out, but he would not turn away from God. Yes, Job had lots of questions and didn’t understand what was going on, but he did know that he had not sinned against God as everyone was telling him that he had. Even though Job was blameless, upright, feared God and shunned evil, later he would say, Job 42:3 “Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know. 4 “You said, ‘Listen now, and I will speak; I will question you, and you shall answer me.’ 5 My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you. 6 Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes.” We know what was happening, but Job did not but he persevered and remained faithful to his God.’ James 5:10 “Brothers and sisters, as an example of patience in the face of suffering, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. 11 As you know, we count as blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy.” Because of Job’s faithfulness, we have an example of how to persevere when is against us and God is silent. 
        Job was being tested and to do that testing, God allowed satan to destroy him, except for his life. Job 1:12 “The Lord said to satan, “Very well, then, everything he has is in your power, but on the man himself do not lay a finger.” satan believed that he could get satan to curse God and die. As it turns out Psalm 22:24 “He has not despised or scorned the suffering of the afflicted one; he has not hidden his face from him but has listened to his cry for help.” Job remained faithful through God’s silence and in the end Job 42:12 “The Lord blessed the latter part of Job’s life more than the former part. He had fourteen thousand sheep, six thousand camels, a thousand yoke of oxen and a thousand donkeys. 13 And he also had seven sons and three daughters. 14 The first daughter he named Jemimah, the second Keziah and the third Keren-Happuch. 15 Nowhere in all the land were there found women as beautiful as Job’s daughters, and their father granted them an inheritance along with their brothers. 16 After this, Job lived a hundred and forty years; he saw his children and their children to the fourth generation. 17 And so Job died, an old man and full of years.”
        Yes, God will be silent, and the question is will you remain faithful even when everything around you seem to be collapsing? Hebrews 10:38 “My righteous one will live by faith. And I take no pleasure in the one who shrinks back.” 39 But we do not belong to those who shrink back and are destroyed, but to those who have faith and are saved.” Will you hold on to God’s word and stand firm? 1 Corinthians 15:58 “Stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain. 2 Chronicles 15:7 “But as for you, be strong and do not give up, for your work will be rewarded.” Jeremiah 31: 16 This is what the Lord says: “Restrain your voice from weeping and your eyes from tears, for your work will be rewarded,” declares the Lord. “They will return from the land of the enemy. 17 So there is hope for your descendants,” declares the Lord. “Your children will return to their own land.”
        As we saw with Job, the journey can be gruelling. It can appear that everything is against you, financial issues, people will turn away from you and may even think you have lost your mind. If that is the case, you will be in good company. Mark 3:21 “When his (Jesus) family heard about this, they went to take charge of him, for they said, “He is out of his mind.” When the apostle Paul was on trial, Paul said, Acts 26:23 “the Messiah would suffer and, as the first to rise from the dead, would bring the message of light to his own people and to the Gentiles.” 24 At this point Festus interrupted Paul’s defense. “You are out of your mind, Paul!” he shouted. “Your great learning is driving you insane.” The only way to persevere is to keep our eyes of Jesus, not the gurus, not their books but on the living word of God. Hebrews 12:1 “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” Hebrews 10:38 “But my righteous one will live by faith. And I take no pleasure in the one who shrinks back.” 39 But we do not belong to those who shrink back and are destroyed, but to those who have faith and are saved.” Psalm 141:8 “But my eyes are fixed on you, Sovereign Lord; in you I take refuge—do not give me over to death.” 
        As this journey of perseverance continues, you draw closer and closer to God’s word. If you find yourself turning away because you think God has abandoned you, you are sinking because you took your eyes off Jesus and lost your focus. This isn’t new age meditation where you empty your mind so that satan can fill it, this is about filling your mind with the word of God, as God speaks to us through His word. At this point, be leery of those who say God is constantly speaking to them in dreams and visions like a parrot on their shoulder, especially because God in this day is either silent or has turned away. Jeremiah 23:16 “This is what the Lord Almighty says: “Do not listen to what the prophets are prophesying to you; they fill you with false hopes. They speak visions from their own minds, not from the mouth of the Lord. 25 “I have heard what the prophets say who prophesy lies in my name. They say, ‘I had a dream! I had a dream!’ 28 Let the prophet who has a dream recount the dream, but let the one who has my word speak it faithfully. For what has straw to do with grain?” declares the Lord. 29 “Is not my word like fire,” declares the Lord, “and like a hammer that breaks a rock in pieces?” If you want God to speak to you, read His word and then meditate on what you just read. 
        There will be days where you don’t think you are going to make it and what to give up. This is Jeremiah’s account of his journey. Jeremiah 20:7 “I am ridiculed all day long; everyone mocks me. 8 Whenever I speak, I cry out proclaiming violence and destruction. So the word of the Lord has brought me insult and reproach all day long. 9 But if I say, “I will not mention his word or speak anymore in his name,” his word is in my heart like a fire, a fire shut up in my bones. I am weary of holding it in; indeed, I cannot. 10 I hear many whispering, “Terror on every side! Denounce him! Let’s denounce him!” All my friends are waiting for me to slip, saying, “Perhaps he will be deceived; then we will prevail over him and take our revenge on him.” 11 But the Lord is with me like a mighty warrior; so my persecutors will stumble and not prevail.” Call out to God and don’t give up. God may be silent, but He will speak to you through His word. What that means is His plan may not have yet unfolded, but He will guide you. Micah 7:7 “But as for me, I watch in hope for the Lord, I wait for God my Savior; my God will hear me. 8 Do not gloat over me, my enemy! Though I have fallen, I will rise. Though I sit in darkness, the Lord will be my light. 9 Because I have sinned against him, I will bear the Lord’s wrath, until he pleads my case and upholds my cause. He will bring me out into the light; I will see his righteousness. 10 Then my enemy will see it and will be covered with shame, she who said to me, “Where is the Lord your God?” When God is finished with testing and discipline, He will use you according to His plan. It is important to always remember, it is not our plan nor is it our timing, it is all about God.
        As we wait for God’s plan to unfold, don’t give up. The Psalmist cried out, Psalm 109:1 “My God, whom I praise, do not remain silent, 2 for people who are wicked and deceitful have opened their mouths against me; they have spoken against me with lying tongues. 30 With my mouth I will greatly extol the Lord; in the great throng of worshipers I will praise him. 31 For he stands at the right hand of the needy, to save their lives from those who would condemn them.” Psalm 35:17 “How long, Lord, will you look on? Rescue me from their ravages, my precious life from these lions. 18 I will give you thanks in the great assembly; among the throngs I will praise you. 19 Do not let those gloat over me who are my enemies without cause; do not let those who hate me without reason maliciously wink the eye. 20 They do not speak peaceably, but devise false accusations against those who live quietly in the land. 21 They sneer at me and say, “Aha! Aha! With our own eyes we have seen it.” 22 Lord, you have seen this; do not be silent. Do not be far from me, Lord. 23 Awake, and rise to my defense! Contend for me, my God and Lord. 24 Vindicate me in your righteousness, Lord my God; do not let them gloat over me. 25 Do not let them think, “Aha, just what we wanted!” or say, “We have swallowed him up.” Psalm 28:1 “To you, Lord, I call; you are my Rock, do not turn a deaf ear to me. For if you remain silent, I will be like those who go down to the pit. 2 Hear my cry for mercy as I call to you for help, as I lift up my hands toward your Most Holy Place. 6 Praise be to the Lord, for he has heard my cry for mercy. 7 The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him. 8 The Lord is the strength of his people, a fortress of salvation for his anointed one. 9 Save your people and bless your inheritance; be their shepherd and carry them forever.” Psalm 22:19 “But you, Lord, do not be far from me. You are my strength; come quickly to help me. 20 Deliver me from the sword, my precious life from the power of the dogs. 21 Rescue me from the mouth of the lions; save me from the horns of the wild oxen. 22 I will declare your name to my people; in the assembly I will praise you. 23 You who fear the Lord, praise him! All you descendants of Jacob, honor him! Revere him, all you descendants of Israel! 24 For he has not despised or scorned the suffering of the afflicted one; he has not hidden his face from him but has listened to his cry for help. 25 From you comes the theme of my praise in the great assembly; before those who fear you I will fulfill my vows.”
        As we wait on God and even though there are days you might want to give up, trust in God’s plan and trust in His perfect timing and persevere. James 1:2 “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” Isaiah 62:6 “You who call on the Lord, give yourselves no rest, 7 and give him no rest till he establishes Jerusalem and makes her the praise of the earth.” As we saw with Job, at God’s appoint time, He restored Job and blessed him with twice as much as he had before.