Silence is Golden if we Know that God is at Work
Read: Proverbs 3:5; Romans 4:17-22
The computer was running at a snail's pace. The Webpage was dragging; so, I tried to get out of it. Not happening. I tried escape and other "tricks of the trade." Still it ran as if it were stuck in the mud, and there was only silence regardless of which keys I pressed or how many times I repeated the same action. It was time to turn the computer off, in the hopes that it would fix whatever glitch that had occurred. However, even after rebooting, there was still no audio. Something was on the screen. I knew it because I could see the brightness. Was it a message of foreboding announcing that the computer had been attacked by a malicious virus or was it simply up-dating? In both of these scenarios, the audio doesn't engage. I waited. Time passed, and still no audio. If at first you don't succeed, reboot again. Still no pings or dings. To quote Simon and Garfunkel, all I heard was "The Sounds Of Silence." Hours passed, and I still didn't know what was going on, if anything. Finally, the computer began to read the screen. I discovered that there was a driver that needed to be repaired. The solution? Restart the computer and let it fix itself. Once again, there was silence, but this time, I knew that work was being done, even in the quietness.
I love to read the stories in the Bible where we discover that God is at work in the quietness. We see His hand so readily in the lives of those chronicled in the scriptures because we watch as they live out their days. It is our privilege to see a much fuller panorama of their stories than we can in our own lives because their earthly adventures have been completed. We often are able to watch as God does amazing things, and after we have read about how God worked in their lives, we can forget that they lived one day at a time, just as we do. They often experienced the quietness of God, wondering and waiting for the time when His hand of blessing would be seen.
Let's look at one example of this truth, Abraham and Sarah: We know about this couple and how they waited for God's promise of a son. For years and years, they no doubt longed to hold the promised child in their arms. Approximately 25 years passed by, day after day, before Isaac, the fulfillment of that promise, came, bringing laughter into Abraham and Sarah's lives. The Lord never gave them a timetable, indicating how long it would be between His promise and its fulfillment. Did they want to reboot, hoping that this would help God's promise to hurry up and come?? Was that what they did when Sarah gave Abraham Hagar, Genesis 16:1-15? They were weary and wanted to bring about God's work in their own strength and in their own way. Did they look at the screen of their lives and wonder what message, if any, God had in the times of waiting? If they had thoughts like this, their thoughts would be similar to our own; yet, they no doubt discovered as we so often do, that God won't be hurried and frequently, He doesn't give explanations for what seems like needless delays to us.
Couldn't the Lord have given Abraham and Sarah little Isaac after they had waited for five years? What about ten years of waiting? He was silent concerning why He made them wait. Yet, His delay had nothing to do with inability or lack of love for Abraham and Sarah. Romans 4:17-22 reminds us that Abraham knew, even in the silent times, that God was fully able to bring to fruition all that He had promised. He simply didn't know, as we so often don't either, how God would do it. Wouldn't it be nice if God would provide us with even a part of a blueprint, indicating what He was up to in silent times?
Yet, there are many places in the scriptures that give us help when God's silence seems difficult to hear. One such help is found in a well-loved verse, Proverbs 3:5. Yes, we also usually look at Proverbs 3:6, but for today, it will be enough to be nourished by verse 5. The first part of the verse tells us to trust the Lord with all of our heart. Where and how do we begin to do that? It sounds so big to trust Someone with all that is within us.
This week, I thought of an earthly example concerning trust. May I explain? We need a workman for a particular project at home. My husband and I were looking for the right person. Right away, I remembered a man who had worked for us several years ago. His work and his professionalism were stellar; so, he will be our first choice if he is willing and available. We know him and the quality of his work.
How can we know the Creator/Redeemer like that? For one thing, His work. What a wondrous Creator He is, and that is only one part of Who He is and what He has done. He is also sustainer, keeper, shepherd and redeemer. Those titles are merely a smattering of Who God is as revealed in the Bible. Through His word and a growing relationship with Him, we grow to trust Him more and more. As we experience His love and faithfulness, it becomes easier to trust Him with all of our heart. Please know that I do this imperfectly, but because the Lord is patient, He continues to help me day by day.
Now since we have looked at trusting the Lord, let's look at the second phase of the couplet: Lean not on your own understanding. The problem with not leaning on my own understanding is that I spent years thinking that doing so was the best way to solve problems. Then in my 20s, I began a relationship with the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. It was at that time that I recognized that the way I had been trained to see myself and the world was wrong because it was often the opposite of how He defined what was true.
For example, my own understanding was that I needed to try to do what was good so that I could please God and earn a place with Him in His kingdom, John 14:1-3. Although I was sincere about what I believed, it was completely wrong. If I had held to that understanding, I could have never known the joy of salvation. I had to discard my ideas that centered around me and what I did for God, and exchange them for the truth that His death on my behalf provided everything that I need for both pleasing Him now and for all eternity, 2 Peter 2-4; Jude 1:24. Another problem with our own understanding is that others often agree with it. When, for example, we are going through a time of God's silence, we are tempted to "do something." Yet, acting on impulse, rather than being led by the Holy Spirit simply to be doing something though lauded by the world, is often a way that seems right to a man, but it often ends in death, Proverbs 14:12.
Back to Abraham and Sarah's decision to bring about God's promise through what the world deemed acceptable. Leaning on their own understanding, they tried to help God in a way those around them would have lauded. Yet, in the end, once again God's way would bring joy, but the way of the world brought them great pain, Proverbs 14:12. It takes courage for us to not lean on our own understanding because doing so is often a path to popularity, and when we wait for God, it is often the path to ridicule.
Lord, help us know that You are at work in the quietness. Help us to cease striving and know that You are God, Psalm 46:10. Then we will trust You more and rest in our own understanding less.