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It's a tactic as old as any of us can remember. It is especially effective when deployed in the husband - wife relationship. While there are exceptions, it is usually the wife who is most proficient in the use of this tactic.  The power of this tactic is the lack of a response from the person who is seeking to manipulate the situation to their own advantage. i.e. they will not answer

The most effective way to utilize the fullest potential of this tactic is to withdraw relationally from the presence of the other party and refuse to speak. Don't answer any questions. Don't communicate in any manner whatsoever. Act as though the other person is not present. This will most often make the other party feel very vulnerable because you know what the problem is and they know that you know. Silence in the face of relentless attempts to find out what is the problem is very intimidating to most people.

A variation of that technique is to deny what everyone knows is a fact. "What's the matter, honey?" The classic answer is, of course, "Nothing?"  "But you are not yourself. Something's wrong. I just know it". "I tell you, there's nothing wrong!"

Now let me shift that principle into the spiritual realm.

Have you not had the experience (maybe often) where you seemed to be on the receiving end of God's silent treatment? You had a nagging sense that God had gone quiet on you. No matter how hard you prayed, how often you prayed, how long you prayed, how sincerely you prayed, the response from God was a great big 'zilch'?  We then conclude that it must be because of sin in our hearts

If I had not confessed the sin in my heart, my Lord would not have listened. (Ps 66:18 NLT)

But, no. In this case, at least, sin is not the culprit that renders the heavens silent. Whatever be the cause, God knows but He is not telling. It's like He is giving us the silent treatment. We feel weak and vulnerable. Why won't He speak to us? Remember Job's cry in light of God's seeming absence?

If only I knew where to find God, I would go to his throne and talk with him there.  I would lay out my case and present my arguments.  Then I would listen to his reply and understand what he says to me. Would he merely argue with me in his greatness? No, he would give me a fair hearing.  Fair and honest people can reason with him, so I would be acquitted by my Judge. "I go east, but he is not there. I go west, but I cannot find him.  I do not see him in the north, for he is hidden. I turn to the south, but I cannot find him.  But he knows where I am going. And when he has tested me like gold in a fire, he will pronounce me innocent. (Job 23:3-10 NLT)

To be honest with you, there have been times in my life - especially more recent times - when I have wanted to give God the silent treatment. I haven't wanted to talk with him. I feel that He is not aware of my situation and my deep need to hear from Him. Is He interested? Does He care? All my years as a Christian seeking to serve Him appear to count for nothing in the face of my present circumstances. If I just knew why He is doing whatever it is that He's up to at this stage of my life, maybe then I could respond more appropriately than what I am doing at this stage.

I don't particularly want to talk with Him. The truth is that I pray very little these days. No, I don't think I'm losing my faith. I'm just finding it difficult to accept my circumstances without some kind of explanation as to "why?"

Of course, in the final analysis, it's not possible to give God the silent treatment. His knowledge of us means that it is impossible for us to hide our thoughts from Him,

In Gene Edwards' marvellous book, "The Prisoner in the Third Cell", he transports the reader into the cell where John the Baptist awaits his imminent execution. Edwards helps us think about the kind of questions that John must have been asking. On page 80 (let me quote it to you).

The question is not, 'Why is God doing this? Why is He like this?" The question is not, "Why does He not answer me?" The question is not, "I need Him desperately. Why does He not come to rescue me?" The question is not, "Why did God allow this tragedy to happen to me, to my children, to my wife, to my husband, to my family?"  Nor is it, "Why does God allow injustices?"

The question before the house is this: "Will you follow a God you do not understand?" "Will you follow a God who does not live up to your expectations?"

Your Lord has put something in your life which you cannot bear. The burden simply is too great. He was never supposed to do this!! But the question remains, "Will you continue to follow this God, who did not live up to your expectations?



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