Every which way I turn, I see loved ones struggling, hurting, and wrestling with loss. I have a good friend who is now caring for her husband on hospice (brain cancer) and her daughter, a young mom (pancreatic cancer). Her pain and heartbreak are unfathomable. I know a young couple who, after a five-year battle with infertility, finally got pregnant. Then lost the baby. I, myself, am going on another straight month of symptoms, fatigue, and inflammation. How long, O, Lord?

What do you do when God’s seeming lack of involvement breaks your heart? How do you sort it through?

Recently, I spoke with author and professor of spiritual theology and formation, Kyle Strobel. We talked about his book, Where Prayer Becomes Real: How Honestly with God Transforms Your Soul.

Kyle shared how often we get in our way when we pray. We sin-manage and self-edit before we even approach the throne of grace. He explained that true soul-healing and intimacy with God happens when we finally decide to be honest with God about the hurts in our hearts, even if those hurts are directed at Him.

Kyle writes:

“We must grapple with this astonishing truth: God can hear what He sees. More to the point for our purposes, what God sees, He wants us to pray. Whatever is in our hearts—hidden sins, deep and unmet longings, pains, and sorrows long left hidden—are what God is calling us to pray. The Spirit is lifting these to the Father in His groaning. When we avoid naming the truth in prayer, we are praying from outside the Spirit’s groaning. God wants to hear what He sees because He is always at work in reality and never in fantasy. This is the fruit of the good news of prayer.”

In my long battle with chronic illness, I’ve learned that just because God seems silent doesn’t mean He’s absent. He’s always near. Incredibly near to the brokenhearted. He wants to hear from you. He loves you.

He told us we’d have trouble on the earth. He’s never once lied to us. And He will keep His promises to us. One day, He will make all things new.

Still, you may wonder, if God can break through, why doesn’t He?

I’ve struggled with that same question too many times to count.

What to do when you find yourself in this place?

Return to His Word:

When God seems silent, remember that you have His Word. He has spoken and is speaking. Go back to what you know to be true. Rehearse His promises. Find one that speaks to you and say it, pray it, and memorize it. God’s word is living, active, and powerful (see Hebrews 4:12). There are seasons when God seems to whisper to our hearts less often, but it’s exactly in those times where He teaches us to rely on what we already know to be true.

Guard Your Heart:

Jesus said that out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks (See Luke 6:45). When we’re hurting, we store up all kinds of assumptions, conclusions, and deliberate decisions based on half-truths or lies. And, when we hit our limit, we do and say things we never otherwise would. Especially during our painful seasons, we need to run to Jesus and be honest with Him. He’ll help us sort through our hurts in a way that changes us and even heals us. Our tendency is to get offended with God, run the other way, and make decisions we’ll later regret. Your heart is a treasured place. When you carefully discern what you’ll allow in, you’ll be more equipped to stay in a posture of peace, even when the storms rage.

Watch Your Words:

If we don’t guard our hearts, our words will be toxic. They’ll hurt us and those around us. Scripture tells us that what we say can bring life or death and that we’ll eat the fruit of our words (see Proverbs 18:21). You’ll notice yourself getting stronger the more you dare to speak life over your life, even while you wait for your breakthrough.

These painful seasons won’t last forever. But how we navigate them does echo into eternity. Now is your time to trust Him. You will find Him faithful.

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