Faith in a Silent God
Our God so frequently does not respond to our call. Our God does not appear on demand. We are struck by God’s absence in times of acute trauma … In such times what does matter is where we choose to cast our lot.
Traces of God, Neil Gillman
Gillman reflects of the contest of faith between Elijah and the prophets of Baal. God comes down to light Elijah’s fire in a story illustrating the supreme power of Yahweh over other gods. But I prefer the story later on in the Book of I Kings when Elijah is hiding for his life and can’t find God in the powerful forces of storm and fire any more, instead he has to strain to hear God’s whisper in a gentle breeze and convince himself that he is indeed not alone. It is then that Elijah’s faith is truly tested – alone in the cave hiding from those sent to kill him, feeling as if he has been abandoned by his God. It is then that faith really becomes a choice.
That’s no consolation though, we’d all prefer Moses’ burning bush or Elijah’s flaming sacrifices. Or would we? I’m not sure I would know how to deal with such events, but I’m pretty clear that it wouldn’t be a sign of God’s presence for me. If I can’t find God in nature all the time, a sudden conflagration won’t convince me. And, in California, fire is definitely not a sign of divine support. So in the end, finding traces of God may be more about a choice to “see” than an experience of an extraordinary event, leaving the onus on us.
Gillman asks, if not God, then Who or what else are we going to choose to believe in that will lend coherence to our lives? Indeed!