Scribbled across a wall of a synagogue where hundreds of Jews were housed for later extermination in a gas chamber during the holocaust were these words: I Believe in God even when He is silent. Why was God silent? Today, why does God at times appear silent? Why does He allow people--sometimes people who truly love and trust Him--to die of sickness or disease or in the hands of criminals? Why couldn't He stop the violence in the land? Why couldn't He fix this pretty messed-up world quickly. He's God; He could do it, couldn't He? But why doesn't He? Recently I read an article on this very subject by Margorie Lewis Lloyd that I just had to share with you. The following is her article entitled: When No Angel Stays the Hand:
Abraham had made his heart-wrenching surrender. He had raised the knife to take the life of his son--the son born of a miracle. And then--just at the critical moment, just in the nick of time--an angel stayed his hand!
But sometimes no angel stays the hand. Down through the centuries to this very moment, rising from this planet in an ever-increasing crescendo, is the persistent question 'Why?'
Why, Lord? Why did You let Tommy die? Why didn't You stay the hand of death? Where were the angels when I needed them? Weren't You watching, Lord? Or were You busy somewhere else? I trusted. I believed. Why didn't You answer? Didn't You care? Why, Lord? Why?
Such is the language of broken hearts!
'Nothing shall by any means hurt you,' said Jesus. But many have been hurt. 'They shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.' But some have not recovered. 'These signs shall follow them that believe.' But many have believed--and seen no miracle at the critical hour. 'On earth peace, good will toward men,' said the angels. But the world's hurt is growing worse by the day. Where are the angels now? Why don't they stay the hand of trouble and violence and crime? Why doesn't God do something?
If only He could! If only we could understand how He longs to heal every hurt, to cool every fever, to mend every broken bone and broken heart, to set the world singing again. But He can't--yet!If God should do for His trusting, believing people all that He longs to do--heal every one of them, keep the planes from crashing and the automobiles from colliding, prevent every accident, turn every bullet aside, permit no harm to come to one of His own--Satan would charge Him with giving His people an unfair advantage.
But it is more than that. If God should heal all the hurts, if He should stay the hand of violent death, if He should restrain the winds of the hurricane and turn side the waters of every flood, if He should allow no planes to crash, if He should allow no catastrophe to take the lives of the innocent along with the guilty, men would never understand how cruel, how lethal, how ruthless sin is. And until men understand that, until it is burned indelibly into every mind in the universe, this reign of trouble can never be ended. God is in a hurry too. But He wants to do it right!
And so an angel stayed the hand of Abraham. An angel stopped the mouths of lions in Daniel's day. Jesus Himself walked in the blazing furnace with three men who refused to deny Him. Peter was delivered from prison. But John the Baptist died alone. And Paul. And no angel stayed the hand when the disciples of Jesus one by one--except John--died a violent death.
And no angel stayed the hand when Jesus endured the terrible ordeal that gave us the word Gethsemane. They were watching. They saw Him weighted down with the shuddering, mysterious dread. They saw the fate of humanity trembling in the balance. They longed to go to His aid. But the decision to save man, or not to save him, must be His own. They saw the Father separating every beam of light from His Son--and knew then how offensive sin is to a holy God. They saw the cup tremble in His hand. They heard Him plead, 'Father, if it be possible.' But there was no escape for the Son of God. He must die. Or all humanity must die. Finally, His decision made, He fell dying to the ground!
And then, at that critical moment, the heavens opened. A brilliant light split the darkness as Gabriel, the mighty angel who took the place of Lucifer, came to the Saviour's side. Jesus' own special angel was sent--not to stay the hand, not to remove the cup, but to strengthen Him to drink it. He assured Him of His Father's love and told Him that a multitude of souls would be eternally saved by His sacrifice.
And then came Calvary. The mob was there. The executioners were there. The scoffers and the hypocrites were there. Satan was there--wringing the heart of Jesus with his fierce temptations. The fallen angels were there, casting their hellish shadow over the minds of men.
But God was there, too, in the shadows--near Him, loving Him, proud of Him--even as with breaking heart He removed the last evidence of His presence from His Son. And angels were there--watching in silence as they saw the Saviour crushed with the weight of all the sins of men, all the world's guilt at once. Watching in amazement as they saw how far Satan would go. Watching as the last trace of sympathy for the rebel leader was drained from their hearts. Watching as they saw Jesus defeating death and the author of death, making the universe forever safe from sin's deadly taint. Angels were there--their own hearts crushed and amazed by what they saw that day, by the awful depths of rebellion and the incredible heights of love enacted before them!
And then the Saviour cried, 'It is finished.'
In that final moment He knew that He had won. And angels knew. And Satan knew.
Is it any wonder that angels rejoiced that it was done?
Sometimes no angel stays the hand. But in God's incredible providence, out of the densest darkness shines the most brilliant light. For Jesus, For you. For me.
I've seen them vanish at dawn.
But I've realized enough of my dreams,
To make me want to dream on.
I've prayed many prayers when no answer came,
Though I waited patient and long,
But answers have come to enough of my prayers
To make me keep praying on.
I've trusted many a friend that failed,
And left me to weep along.
But I've found enough of my friends true blue,
To make me keep trusting on.
I've sown many seed that fell by the way
For the birds to feed upon,
But I've held enough golden sheaves in my hands
To make me keep sowing on.
I've drained the cup of disappointment and pain
And gone many days without song.
But I've sipped enough nectar from the roses of life
To make me want to live on.
Every desperate prayer
Seemed like heaven refused.
And some days I found faith meant
Just tying my shoes.
And it was all I could do to press on...
Walk on in the face of the mystery,
Through the night hides the light
Through the darkness till dawn.
Tie your shoes, my dear friend, and press on.
His wonders to perform;
He plants his footsteps in the sea,
And rides upon the storm.
Deep in unfathomable mines
Of never-failing skill
He treasures up His bright designs,
And works His sovereign will.
Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take,
The clouds ye so much dread
Are big with mercy, and shall break
In blessings on your head.
Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,
But trust Him for His grace;
Behind a frowning providence
He hides a smiling face.
His purposes will ripen fast,
Unfolding every hour;
The bud may have a bitter taste,
But sweet will be the flower.
Blind unbelief is sure to err,
And scan his work in vain;
God is His own interpreter,
And He will make it plain.
on the restless sea of time;
somber skies and howling tempests
oft succeed a bright sunshine;
in that land of perfect day,
when the mists are rolled away,
we will understand it better by and by.
By and by, when the morning comes,
when the saints of God are gathered home,
we'll tell the story how we've overcome,
for we'll understand it better by and by.
We are often destitute
of the things that life demands,
want of food and want of shelter,
thirsty hills and barren lands;
we are trusting in the Lord,
and according to God's word,
we will understand it better by and by.
Trials dark on every hand,
and we cannot understand
all the ways of God would lead us
to that blessed promised land;
but he guides us with his eye,
and we'll follow till we die,
for we'll understand it better by and by.
Temptations, hidden snares
often take us unawares,
and our hearts are made to bleed
for a thoughtless word or deed;
and we wonder why the test
when we try to do our best,
but we'll understand it better by and by.
--Charles Albert Tindley
For more information on why God allows suffering and calamities, why He appears to be silent at times, click here Footsteps of God.