Ten years ago, it seemed as though God had packed up, moved far away, and left me no forwarding address. I was unable to sense his promptings and overall presence as I searched for him during trying times. I felt abandoned, confused, and terribly alone.
The year actually had started out on an opposite note. In January, I'd realized a lifelong dream—the publication of my first book. The spring months were jammed with talk show interviews and a stepped-up speaking schedule. Blessings were everywhere. In the midst of it all, God gave me a vision to start a new ministry for Christians in the workplace. I was on a roll.
With great excitement, I raced through all the open doors. My quiet times were rich, God's directions were clear, and all the lights were green. As long as God kept guiding, directing, leading, and blessing, I felt I could handle all the pressure and change.
Then, a recession in the summer of 2001 slowed my small consulting business. I was worried because I now had the added expenses of launching a new ministry. I hoped that by fall, everything would be back to normal. Little did I know the events of September 11 were right around the corner.
After 9-11, "bad-to-worse" took on a whole new meaning. The economy reeled. Clients stopped paying their bills and called off future projects. Speaking engagements were canceled. The stress caused my fibromyalgia to flare and a relentless cycle of pain, fatigue, and depression followed. To top it all off, my health insurance provider filed for bankruptcy.
Daily I approached God with growing concern. "Okay, God, I'm sure you've got a plan. Show me what I'm supposed to do here. I need you now more than ever. I'm a middle-aged woman on my own. I'm physically hurting, emotionally spent. How should I deal with this?"
The silence was deafening.
My prayers became more strident: "God, this is not the time to play hide-and-seek. I'm facing some serious anxiety here. Now would be an especially good time to hear from you!"
For more than two decades, the Holy Spirit had filled my head and heart with comfort, encouragement, leadings, inklings, instructions—even in the rockiest of times. But for the next six months, God was totally mute.
What's going on when God's silence seems palpable? What on earth is he up to? The hard reality is, some things are best learned in the dark. Here's what God taught me through that tough time of his silence.
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