Is God’s Silence Proof that You Have Sinned?

A Christian worshipper holds a candle as she takes part in the Christian Orthodox Holy Fire ceremony at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem's Old City, April 30, 2016. (PHOTO: REUTERS/AMIR COHEN)
A Christian worshipper holds a candle as she takes part in the Christian Orthodox Holy Fire ceremony at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem’s Old City, April 30, 2016. (PHOTO: REUTERS/AMIR COHEN)

For many Christians the purpose of prayer is to commune with God and to seek answers. Some answers come right away, others with time. But when God shows prolonged silence, when there seems to be no answer from Him at all, is it a sign of His chastisement? Has the believer done something wrong?

In his new book Unanswered, a volume six years in the making that intends to shed light on hot-button topics within today’s Church, apologist and New Testament scholar Jeremiah Johnston gets candid about he and his wife’s personal test in trusting God through His silence.

“We always wanted children,” Johnston wrote in Unanswered. “We never could have dreamed that two healthy people, who loved God with all of their hearts, would be unable to conceive a child.”

When the Johnstons finally did get an answer, however, their lives changed in ways they could never have expected. When it comes to asking God for what you want, the Bible scholar told The Christian Post last month, “You better be ready for the answer … ”

Two years after Jeremiah and his wife, Audrey, first began to seek God for a child they were still waiting on an answer. People at their church, genuinely concerned and praying that the couple would get their heart’s desire, often asked Audrey, “Are you pregnant yet?”

To make matters worse, Johnston — an associate pastor at his Texas-based church — was one day asked to pray for a couple. While there was nothing unusual about that, the subject of the prayer request was ironic: the couple sought prayer for their fertility.

Johnston was blunt when he told CP how he felt about the request. “To be honest with you, I felt completely inadequate. And I didn’t want to pray for them.” The Johnstons were three years into their own infertility at this point, and Jeremiah and Audrey had already spent “a small fortune” consulting medical experts, who poured over hormones and details of their love life, in their unsuccessful efforts to conceive. “If it didn’t work for me, why should it work for anyone else? I prayed, I think, one of the weakest prayers I could ever pray — but it was in faith — and I did want God to bless this sweet couple.”

And God did, swiftly it seemed. Within nine months the couple that Johnston prayed for had conceived and given birth to a healthy baby. While the Johnstons were happy for their friends, Jeremiah could not help but wonder how his prayer for them seemed to garner a rapid response from God while his own appeals for a child seemed hindered, unanswered, ignored. ” … ‘Are you playing a game with me, God? What’s going on here?'” he wondered. It would be only one of many challenges for the Johnstons in their attempts to have a child.

In the book, Jeremiah wrote about reaching his “personal low point” after a minister “spoke a word” over him and Audrey after having “had a vision” that the couple would have a child within one year.

“Needless to say, a year later I became quite skeptical of unsolicited visions and words from the Lord,” Johnston wrote.

Johnston said that he and Audrey eventually reached a point of despair. “I think we had reached that point after nearly five years of God’s deafening silence in regard to the inability to have children on our own,” he wrote.

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