God’s silence doesn’t mean he is not listening, he is indifferent or passive. Many of His great stories are found out decades or sometime centuries later. Think about Ruth and Naomi. They went through famine, grief and losses while God remained silent. Matter fact, God is silent throughout their whole story. Ruth has not witnessed the complete unfolding of her story. She only saw the first fruit of it. She had no idea that she became the great-grandmother of King David and an ancestor of our Lord Jesus.
Sometimes the Lord allows us to find out decades later how He has worked through mysterious moments. But most of his work is revealed throughout generations. And one day, He will unfold to us all his marvelous works.
On August 15th, 1985 we’ve witnessed something unforgettable. It was an evidence of God’s love and power and it forever confirmed to our soul that He listens to prayer. Remember this was during communism and we’ve lived behind the Iron Curtain.
At that moment there were about 15 of us involved in the ministry of Cru in Hungary. We were together in a camp where we’ve studied the Bible. On the final night, we came together to pray for the entire night. We’ve prayed for God to tear down the ‘Spiritual Iron Curtain’ around people’s heart. We’ve spent the whole night in prayer.
We were praying through Acts 4:23-31. It seemed appropriate for us to pray what the first century believers prayed when Peter and John were persecuted as we had been intimidated by the communist police when they’ve arrested me for sharing my faith and searched our home for Christian literature. We were praying through Acts 4:31:
“After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.”
Immediately, around 5:00 a.m., just as we were praying this passage, the whole town shook. It felt like a giant train ran just beneath our feet. It was one of the largest earthquake in the history of Hungary, registering 5.2 on the Richter scale. No one was hurt.
We don’t think the timing of the earthquake was coincidental – hitting just as we finished praying through the Acts 4 passage. When the earthquake occurred, we could not have imagined what would happen next. We had absolutely no idea of the political and spiritual earthquakes that God was preparing to bring: the fall of communism and the birth of Youth at the Threshold of Life through which so many students have heard the gospel in 62 countries. (More details can be found in the book we co-authored, titled: “The Outrageous Promise”.)
Exactly 35 years later this month we got an email telling us this earthquake story from a personal viewpoint. A now middle-aged man described what has happened to him on that morning: “As a teenager I lived a terrible life. I didn’t care about this whole ‘Jesus tale’. I just wanted to party all night. I’ve lived in an apartment complex. I woke up at early dawn because the whole ground shook beneath my bed. The next moment a vase fell on my head. Everyone was running to the street, but I was laying on my bed and my head badly hurt. At that moment I felt that I had been prayed for, matter fact, I felt that I had been prayed for a long time. But this moment was necessary for me to wake up from my deadly dream of pursuing my sinful life. After that earthquake I gave my life to Jesus. God has blessed me with a beautiful family and I’m elder in our church. I want thank now to those young people who prayed for me 35 years ago.”
His silence in our sufferings should not make us hopeless. We can’t comprehend what is coming and how he is working.
Sometime He unfolds the edge of the curtain so we could peek in to and see a small part of his beautiful work. This should fill us with praise.
Faith in a prayer-hearing God should lead to bold proclamation of the Word of God (see Acts 4:31).