Hundreds of recent psychological studies have proven that, contrary to what we often think, our chief pain in life comes not from what happens our does not happen to us. Rather, our worst pain generally occurs from what we tell ourselves about the things we experience. In other words, how we download and interpret life is of the utmost importance. We cannot pursue this here, but it follows in regard to God’s silence that much of our worst pain is self-inflicted. Most likely it is derived precisely not from anything that God fails to do, but from our telling ourselves things like the following: “God does not care about me, refuses to act, breaks His promises, or does things for others but not for me.” Thinking and voicing such misbeliefs are the lies that can position our lives and can serve as the direct cause of our most painful emotions. Therefore, exchanging these lies for truth can help us align our thinking with reality and can dramatically reverse these patterns of self-inflicted pain (Phil 4:6-9).
Habermas spends a great deal of time dispelling the myth that God was more actively involved and answered more prayers in New Testament times than in ours. In a nutshell, he reasons that, given the high degree of historical certainty that Rome overtly persecuted and continually threatened both Judaism and Christianity, first-century believers had as much or more reason to think God was silent than do we. He says “If we judge the church’s ‘golden years’ to be a period of time where everything was wonderful and God always acted the way we desired, but where little or no bad news occurred, this seems very far indeed from the picture in the New Testament” (p. 76).
This, I would argue, has profound implications on how we understand and stand up to the pain and suffering we experience in our lives. Putting our experiences into historical perspective of what God has done can only help us process the disappointment that we go through when we think “God is silent.”