Submitted In Silence - Reframeyouth

Submitted In Silence

As a dog owner, one of the things my wife and I taught our dog Oso was to be okay with being alone, which worked great whenever we were cleaning our apartment. We can close him up in the living room, and he's fine. Our living room is above us, so whenever we're cleaning, we can hear this 75-pound dog wreaking havoc with all his toys. Even though it can sometimes sound like there's a stampede happening right above us, we're never concerned because we know what he's doing, and we've never had a problem with it. UNTIL one day, while we were cleaning, Oso was making his usual noise, but suddenly, he just went silent! No toys being thrown, no sound of paws walking, no moving furniture, just silence. We thought maybe he had fallen asleep, so we just ignored it. When we finished cleaning and went upstairs to relax, we were met by Oso, who had destroyed his bed. It turns out that while he was silent, he was busy destroying a bed we got him that same week! Since then, we know that something's wrong every time Oso goes from loud to silent.

I think it's safe to say that all of us are alerted by sudden silence. Maybe you have kids, and the noise doesn't phase you when they're playing, but when there's silence, it makes you suspicious. Perhaps you can walk the same busy street at night with no problem, but when it suddenly becomes empty and silent, you think you're being followed and start bolting home. Even in movies, when there's a scene where it becomes dead silent, you know that a jump scare is just waiting to happen, so you start thinking the worst.

It seems as if sudden silence in our lives is like the precursor to bad things happening. If we're honest with ourselves, the silence that causes great concern in our lives isn't when our dogs suddenly go silent or when a busy street suddenly becomes empty, but when God Himself seems to have lost His voice in our lives. It's when we're amid a rough situation, reaching out to God and only getting silence in return, wondering what He's up to. It's often said that every relationship goes through a honeymoon phase, where emotions are high, and it feels like there are no problems. Then, at some point, the emotional high fades, and you're left with the reality of what the relationship is. I know for me, this was an experience I endured in 2022 with Jesus. I made the decision to follow Jesus around the fall of 2013, and for nine years, I rode the emotional high of "feeling" the presence of God through every church service, every worship song, and every step as I worked towards getting into pastoral ministry. When that opportunity came to fruition in June of 2021, I thought, "Man, how could this get any better?" These famous last words were followed by a year of massive anxiety, discouragement, struggle, and, scariest of all, the "feeling" of silence from God. The nine-year honeymoon phase of emotional highs with God had run out, and I was left with the reality of my brokenness and what was going on within me. At one point, I began to ask what I was doing wrong and why God wasn't doing anything.

I think if there's someone who can relate to this, it's Joseph. Joseph was one of the twelve sons of Jacob and was his dad's favorite, which made him hated by his brothers. I won't go into super detail, but you can find his life journey in Genesis 37-50. In short, God gave Joseph a couple of dreams that he would rule over his brothers. So, Joseph did what anyone who dreamed of ruling over brothers who hated them would do—he told his brothers. Because of this dream, Joseph was thrown into a pit by his brothers, who then faked his death to their father and sold him into slavery. In this pit, Joseph finds himself just because he has communicated his dream. We don't read a direct message from God to Joseph that everything would work out, and we don't read of any miraculous intervention taking place. From here, Joseph would be falsely accused of a crime that threw him into prison, and the one ticket he saw as a way out quickly failed him. Some scholars believe Joseph could've been in prison for twelve years. Because of a dream and some jealous brothers, Joseph potentially lived the next decade of his life behind bars. You have to wonder what Joseph might have thought throughout all of this. After doing the right things, only to end up in the wrong places, he probably wondered where God was in all of this—wondering if there was any hope for him. It seems that through it all, God was silent. The moment life changed for the better for Joseph was when Pharaoh started to have some scary dreams, and when no one in Pharaoh's corner could interpret Pharaoh's dream, Joseph was called up to step in because God had used him to interpret dreams while in prison. By faith, Joseph was able to interpret Pharaoh's dream, and as a result, Pharaoh made Joseph second in command of the whole nation. Joseph was actually why Egypt would be able to navigate a massive famine and survive. During that famine, Joseph would finally see his brothers again—the brothers who put him in this decade-long mess. His brothers were shocked when they realized that their brother Joseph would be the deciding factor in whether or not they'd eat. At the moment when Joseph was face to face with his brothers and could have had his payback for all they put him through, here's how he responds:

Genesis 50:20 (NLT)

20 You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good. He brought me to this position so I could save many people's lives.

Joseph did not credit his long-overdue success to himself. He credited God, saying that even though his brothers PUT him in the pit, the very hand of God brought him THROUGH the pit. Even though he was falsely PUT in prison, it was God who helped him get THROUGH the prison and into Pharaoh's palace. God brought him to this very point where he could now be used to help solve a national crisis. We find that even when God seemed silent in Joseph's life, he still believed that God would see him through. Joseph remained submitted to God in the most silent moments through it all. We learn from Joseph that just because God may feel silent in our lives does not mean that God is absent from our lives. Amid God's silence in Joseph's life, three things remained evident that are true for us today:

God's silence does not mean an absence of God's presence.

Though we never read about Joseph's miraculous exchanges with God, we're told that Joseph was never alone. Throughout Joseph's story, you'll see phrases like "The Lord was with Joseph so that he prospered" and "The Lord was with him." Whatever high or low point Joseph found himself at, one consistent theme remains through it all: the Lord was with Joseph. Because the Lord was with Joseph, he prospered in everything he did. It's such a simple truth, but it's a truth we often have a hard time believing when God feels silent. I think this is because, far too often, we base the certainty of God's presence on how we feel and how things seem. When life is going great, when we feel goosebumps during worship, we have all the faith in the world that God is in our midst. But when trials come, and feelings fade, we begin to think, "God, where are You, and why won't You do something?" But faith is not a feeling; it's the foundation of where our hope comes from, which is the truth of God's word. When faith is just about feelings, we're led to think that the true sign of growing faith is when we can feel God more. As a result, we believe the opposite is true, too: that a dying faith is a faith that can't feel God as much. This false idea is the fastest way for faith to dwindle out. I truly believe the true sign of growing faith is not when we can feel God more but when we begin to develop less of a need to always feel God to know that He is with us!

God's silence does not mean an absence of God's provision.

Joseph didn't gain favor from Potiphar because of his skillset or charisma. Genesis 39 says that the Lord gave Joseph success in everything he did. We see that it was God's providence in Joseph's life that turned him from a slave to a manager. Even when he was thrown into prison, and it seemed like nothing could be done, God provided favor once again, making him manager over inmates. When the officials had terrible dreams they couldn't interpret, God provided the interpretation for Joseph. Even when the officials forgot all about Joseph, God never forgot about Joseph because we now know how the story goes. Just because God did not provide an immediate way out of what Joseph was facing doesn't mean He wasn't providing at all. Although He may not have provided a way out for Joseph, He certainly provided a way through for Joseph in what he was facing. God's provision over our lives may not always show up in Him getting us out of something; sometimes, it may show up in Him giving us the strength, resources, and wisdom to get through something. Just a side note—you'll often find that going through something will produce more strength and character than just getting out of something. Through God's provision, Joseph's character was developed; he could work on his ability to interpret dreams, and he was well-equipped for the position of a lifetime, being second in command to Pharaoh.

God's silence does not mean an absence of God's promise.

It turns out that Joseph's dream was not just some dream but God's plan on how He would continue to fulfill His promise made in the beginning to Abraham. When Joseph began working under Pharaoh, his dream and God's plan became a reality because, at that moment, he became ruler over his family. Without Joseph, his family would have suffered from the famine that was taking place. This dream that Joseph had, this promise from God that so many people tried to destroy, that at one point started to seem more like a fantasy in Joseph's life than a promise, eventually became a reality. It was because even in God's most silent moments, when it felt like everything was going wrong, God was present, providing, and working behind the scenes to ensure that His promises became realized.

If I'm being honest, I don't know why it feels like God sometimes goes from loud to silent or why God can feel so close in one moment but then feel far in another. But what I'm sure of is that even when God feels distant and silent, He is not still. He is actively working and fighting on our behalf, present, providing, and keeping His promises. When I look back on 2022, though God felt silent, I can see His footprints all over 2022. In my discouragement, hopelessness, and desperate cries, He was present, providing and keeping His promises.


God wants to speak to you and show up evidently in your life, but in the journey of following Jesus, there will be moments when His voice feels loud and hard to miss, and there will be moments when He sometimes feels silent and hard to see. No matter what, He is never still. God is always at work, even in the most challenging trials of our lives, building us up as He works out His will for our lives. So to the one who feels as if God has left the room, to the one who feels like all they can hear are the voices of fear, discouragement, and hopelessness—if God brought Joseph to an unimaginable position to save a nation out of what felt like silence, what could He be brewing up out of the silence in your life today? If God feels silent to you today, my encouragement to you is that you would not let it be your signal to give up but instead be your signal to press in. Press into prayer, scripture, and your daily walk with Jesus. Press in, believing that the God who feels silent to you right now is actively working things out for your good! My encouragement is that you would stay submitted in silence.


Jesse Lobato is the Youth and Media Pastor at East Coast International Church in Lynn, Massachusetts. Beyond his role in ministry, Jesse has a diverse range of interests that reflect his unique personality. He's an avid Celtics fan and enjoys watching basketball. His all-time favorite movie is Nacho Libre. He also enjoys crafting beats and has a fascination with all things UFC, despite the unconventional combination with his pastoral role.
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