Question: "Why are there times when God seems silent / absent in a believer's life?"
Answer: In answering this question, one is reminded of Elijah and his flight from Jezebel. Elijah was a man of God whom God used to do some mighty things. However, when word reached him that Jezebel had threatened his life, he ran (1 Kings chapter 19). Elijah prayed to the LORD and in effect complained about how he was being treated: “He replied, ‘I have been very zealous for the LORD God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, torn down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too’” (1 Kings 19:10). The LORD'S answer to Elijah is thrilling: “The Lord said, ‘Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.’ Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper” (1 Kings 19:11-12).
We see in this passage of Scripture that what Elijah thought was not true. Elijah thought God was silent and that he was the only one left. God was not only “not silent,” but He had an army waiting in the wings so that Elijah was not alone: “Yet I reserve seven thousand in Israel—all whose knees have not bowed down to Baal and whose mouths have not kissed him” (1 Kings 19:18).
In our walk as born-again believers, it may seem that God is silent, but God is never silent. What looks like silence and inactivity to us is God allowing us the opportunity to listen to “the still small voice” and to see the provisions that He has made for us by faith. God is involved in every area of a believer's life--the very hairs on our heads are numbered (Mark 10:30; Luke 12:7). However, there are times when we have to walk in obedience to the light that God has given us before He sheds more light on our path, because in this age of grace God speaks to us through His Word.
“‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’ declares the Lord. ‘As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it’” (Isaiah 55:8-11).
Therefore, when God seems silent to us as born-again believers, it may mean that we have stopped listening to His voice, we have allowed the cares of this world to plug our spiritual ears, or we have neglected His Word. God does not speak to us today in signs, wonders, fire, or wind. His Spirit speaks to us through the Word, and in that Word we have the “words of life.”