By Roxane B. Salonen
“And Jesus lifted up his eyes and said,
“Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me. I knew that thou hearest me always.”
~ John 11:41b-42a
Have you ever reached out to God with a desperate yearning, certain He would respond quickly in a loving, consoling way, only to sense silence, and God apparently turning a deaf ear?
It happened to me recently in a time of profound interior tumult. I had no doubt God was present, but why did He seem so distant? Why, in my moment of feeling engulfed and confused, did He seem so wholly unmoved?
I had prayed, often, even the day leading up to that period of what seemed like God going dark on me. And yet no peace had come. I spent the days following, trying to make sense of it, feeling certain I’d not been abandoned but uncertain about what God’s silence might mean.
The Arrival of Peace
As I sat with that question, over the next few days, peace did finally begin to manifest in my heart through the helpful insights of friends, my spiritual director, and a book that has been accompanying me during Lent: “Jesus I Trust in You: A 30-Day Personal Retreat with the Litany of Trust.”
On Day 23 of this written retreat, Sr. Faustina Maria Pia, S.V., whose prayers brought us the Litany of Trust, addresses this line of the litany, “That you always hear me and in Your goodness, always respond to me, Jesus, I trust in You.”
As with all of the litany lines, it begins with trust, and as Sr. Faustina says, the belief that “there is someone who hears and responds—the one who holds all creation in His hands.”
Do we believe it? Do we dare? If we did, how might things change?
“Trust knows that God hears every movement of my heart and is waiting to meet me there,” Sr. Faustina continues, noting that silence can sometimes be an invitation from God to draw us in deeper. “(Silence) is a kind of hiddenness that is necessary for intimacy to grow…”
Through silence, she adds, God beckons us to come closer. I think of it as a whisper. Rather than turning a deaf ear, in his silence, God may be simply talking to our hearts in a quieter, more respectful way. Or, as Sr. Faustina says, “The very holding of our hearts is His continual response.”
An Example: Lazarus
To illustrate this concept, Sr. Faustina mentions the story of Lazarus, and how, after His death, despite the pleas of His friends, His earthly end seemed sealed, with apparent silence from Jesus.
And yet, even in those silent four days, God was working, and Jesus, upon his arrival, approaches the tomb, praying aloud, “And Jesus lifted up his eyes and said, “Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me. I knew that thou hearest me always” (John 11:41b-42a). He then beckons Lazarus to rise, and he does.
“Silence in our relationship with God enables a purity of simply being with Him,” Sr. Faustina says. “Am I willing to give Him the benefit of the doubt when His response seems lacking to me?”
Jesus, help me to trust you so fully that even in the silence, I can believe that you are with me, and hear my heart.
Call to Action
As Sr. Faustina mentions in her book, Jesus asks us to pray in his name, sharing with us the privileged place of intercession he has with the Father, praying “in our place and on our behalf” (CCC 2741). If you don’t already, consider praying in Jesus’ name, trusting that he hears, and will appeal to the Father, who will receive and respond in love.
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