The Unseen Growth: Trusting God’s Work in Stillness

The Unseen Growth: Trusting God’s Work in Stillness In the noise of our daily lives, stillness is often unwelcome. It’s easy to equate activity with productivity and progress. But what about those times when life…

The Unseen Growth: Trusting God’s Work in Stillness

In the noise of our daily lives, stillness is often unwelcome. It’s easy to equate activity with productivity and progress. But what about those times when life forces us into stillness, when we are called not to act but to wait? These periods can appear fruitless and may induce a feeling of ‘meh,’ lacking the sense of purpose we find in busyness. Yet, the Scriptures give us a different perspective on stillness. Ecclesiastes speaks to the inherent value in every season, including those of quiet reflection. Life is not a constant rush forward; sometimes, it beckons us to pause, to breathe, to take inventory of where we are and where we need to be. In this pause, in this seeming inactivity, there can be an inward movement, a divine choreography shaping us in ways that hustle and bustle cannot.

The Season of Stillness:

Ecclesiastes 3:1 tells us, “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven” (KJV). While we rush to find meaning in action, this passage reassures us that there is also a purpose to times of repose and quiet. In stillness, we are not inert; we’re like a seed planted in the dark soil, hidden but undergoing essential growth before breaking into the sunlight. Every gardener knows that a seed must lie dormant before it can flourish. Modern research in developmental psychology echoes this ancient wisdom, highlighting the necessity of reflection for personal growth. According to Erik Erikson’s stages of psychosocial development, times of introspection are critical for forming our identity and sense of self. What may feel like stasis can be the most transformative if we allow ourselves the patience to grow at the pace of life, not just at the pace of our expectations.


Personal Anecdote: Mark’s Moment of Waiting:

I recall a season in my friend Mark’s life when a severe injury left him bedridden for months. To a man of ceaseless energy, this forced stillness felt like a sentence to obscurity. Yet, it was during this quietude that Mark discovered the richness of prayerful meditation on Scripture, particularly the story of the prophet Elijah in 1 Kings 19. Elijah experienced God not in the mighty wind, nor the earthquake, nor the fire, but in the gentle whisper that followed. Like Elijah, Mark found that God’s voice often whispers in the silence, leading us through internal landscapes we might have otherwise never traversed. He shared how the absence of distractions allowed a deeper dive into the Bible, reading without a deadline or goal other than to hear God’s voice. This period, which seemed barren on the outset, turned into one of the most spiritually abundant times for him, revealing truths and healing fractured parts of his soul in the quiet dialogue with his Creator.

Understanding the Quiet Work:

While we might value the overt and visible work of God in our lives, the Bible is rife with examples where His most profound work occurs beyond our sight. Consider the account of Joseph, who endured years of imprisonment before his rise to prominence in Egypt (Genesis 39-41). This time, one could argue, was essential for the development of his character and faith. It was here, in the unseen place, that Joseph’s true leadership qualities were honed. It was Joseph’s capacity for forgiveness and wisdom that eventually led to the preservation of his family and many others during the famine. Yet none of this was apparent during those long years in a dark cell, where every day might have felt like the one before, filled with endless sameness and trials.

Scriptural Analysis: Growth in the Secret Place:

Jesus Himself emphasized the value of the hidden in the spiritual life. In Matthew 6:6, He instructs his followers: “But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly” (KJV). This verse is often interpreted as a call to personal, private prayer, suggesting that there is a special kind of growth and relationship-building with God that happens when we are away from the eyes of the world. Background reflection becomes foreground reality, and the secret place becomes a sacred space for growth. It’s in these quiet moments, away from the applause and recognition, our spiritual ‘roots’ dig deeper, drawing sustenance from the hidden streams of God’s spirit. In turn, our external lives begin to reflect the internal communion, showing forth the fruits of a life well-rooted in Him.


Embracing the Unseen Process:

Stillness and quiet phases can sometimes be discouraging. They can evoke feelings of dormancy and stagnation, but what if we were to reframe these seasons? Social science research often points to the concept of ‘latent learning,’ where there’s an accumulation of knowledge that isn’t immediately expressed. This potential parallels the Biblical imagery like the growth of the mustard seed described in Matthew 13:31-32, which, though it is the smallest of seeds, grows to become a great tree. The kingdom of heaven, much like this growth, operates on principles beyond our immediate understanding. In the same manner, spiritual understanding and character may quietly develop and manifest over time, sometimes in unexpected and powerful ways. The fruits of the spirit—love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control—are often nurtured in these quiet crevices of our being, slowly coloring our interactions with a richness that vibrant action alone cannot provide.

The Growth within the Grove:

The Bible presents the idea of growth in conjunction with cultivation, as we see in Isaiah 58:11: “And the LORD shall guide thee continually, and satisfy thy soul in drought, and make fat thy bones: and thou shalt be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters fail not” (KJV). This verse suggests a flourishing that comes from God’s all-encompassing care, even “in drought.” Our spiritual lives need not wither when the rains of visible blessings are scarce; hidden streams sustain us. It’s a vital reminder that our growth is not solely dependent on external circumstances but on the nourishment provided by God, which is unfailing and sustains us through all seasons. Thus, in the garden of our hearts, we may rest assured that our Gardener is ever-vigilant, attending to each plant, whether in the light of day or the still of night.

Conclusion: Trusting the Seasons of Growth:

The seasons of growth that are the least visible to others—and sometimes even to ourselves—are not without value. They often serve as critical periods of development that prepare us for what is to come. As it says in Romans 8:25, “But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it” (KJV). To wait with patience is an act of faith and a declaration of trust in the sovereignty of God’s timing. Our anticipation becomes a silent prayer, a quiet song of hope for the potential yet to bloom. We are invited to embrace these seasons of unseen growth with patience and trust in God’s perfect timing. Our delicate roots are at work beneath the surface, so when the time of action does arrive, we’ll be ready to bloom where we’re planted, not despite the stillness but because of it.


Are you in a season of stillness? How might God be working in your life, even if His work isn’t immediately apparent? Reflect on how previous quiet seasons have prepared you for times of action and growth. Share these stories of unseen progress to encourage others who might also be walking through their time of hidden growth and learning to trust in the quiet work of God. In a society that praises the clamor of success, it takes courage to honor the hush of growth. Providing space for reflection can foster a profound connection that radiant activity alone may not foster. The undulations between action and stillness become the very rhythm of a balanced spiritual life, creating a dance that honors both the visible and the hidden work of the divine within us. Embracing the full spectrum of our experiences is not only faithful to the complexities of life but speaks to the authenticity of our journeys as believers who trust in a God who works in mysterious, often unseen ways.