“God, don’t remain silent! Don’t be quiet or sit still God! Do not turn a deaf ear to me. Don’t stand aloof or be still. God, don’t hold Your peace from me.” (Psalm 83:1)
Gordon Hempton describes himself as an “acoustic ecologist”. Calling himself “The Sound Tracker”, he cares so deeply about silence that he has circled the globe three times in 30 years in pursuit of Earth’s rarest sounds. Sounds which can only be appreciated in the absence of man-made noise. Hempton doesn’t search for the absence of sound, he searches for the absence of noise. And in his opinion, there are only a few places left on earth where there is pure silence and one can sit and listen to the sounds of nature, unspoiled by noise pollution.
After I read about this man I used my son’s “noise-cancelling” headphones to listen to some of the sounds Hempton has recorded. At first, the sounds of trickling water, wind through trees, and birds chirping was kind of pleasant and relaxing and meditative but after a few minutes I have to admit, I got tired of the “silence”. In fact, the silence felt almost claustrophobic.
Is that because I’m so used to noise? Or is it because I don’t like silence?
When others are silent, I am one of those people that often feels the need to speak. Silence makes me uncomfortable. And as any Mum with small children will tell you – silence means the kids are either up to no good or they are (thankfully) finally asleep! I have learned not to always trust silence!
I recently went through a season where I felt that God was silent. And it made me uncomfortable. It made me feel like I was lost and alone. Whilst I have come through that season and am now rejoicing on the other side of that mountain, I still wonder, “what was that all about?” Why was God silent? Why didn’t God seem to be answering my prayers? Why, why, why?
At church last Sunday Reggie Dabbs spoke about a time in the Bible when God was silent. His message helped me understand that God’s (apparent) silence is actually okay. Even when it seems like God is silent, He is still there. Even when it appears that God is not speaking, He is still there. Even though it might feel like I am lost and struggling, God never leaves me alone in the middle of my hurt and pain. He is always there. He might be silent but He’s waiting for what He knows is about to come.
The day between Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday is called “Easter Saturday”. On Friday, Jesus was crucified. And His followers mourned. On Sunday, Jesus was resurrected and rose again! And His followers rejoiced. But on Saturday, while Jesus lay in the tomb, His followers waited, confused and upset.
And God was silent.
Saturday was the day between the Crucifixion and the Resurrection. It was a day marked by silence. It was an empty space between action and emotion. It was a gap between despair and joy. It was a period of time between darkness and light. It was a moment between defeat and victory. It was the day between the end and the beginning.
What the disciples didn’t know was that whilst it was Saturday, Sunday was coming.
As Reggie spoke, I was vividly reminded of my recent “Saturday”. Only this time last year God’s silence tormented me. I remembered all the hurt and pain. I recalled the disappointment, discouragement, disillusionment and despair. I thought about my lack of trust. I was reminded that my silent Saturday was a ‘day’ void of hope. It was a day of lost dreams. It was a day when death seemed to have victory. When God was silent, it caused me to doubt Him. But Reggie assured me that that’s not true! And I wasn’t the only one to think this! Even Jesus’ closest followers thought God’s silence meant His absence!
The whole reason for Saturday is for God to teach me to wait. He wants me to be excited and anticipate the “something” that He is about to do!! As Reggie said, if God raised Jesus from the dead 15 minutes after He died, I wouldn’t appreciate the miracle! Saturday reminds me that something is about to happen, but it hasn’t happened yet. Yes, Saturday seemed to last for a long time and it felt like Sunday would never come. But it did! And because it took so long, I really did appreciate the miracle.
As I reflect on Reggie’s message, I am encouraged that silence can be a good thing. It is often in the stillness that God will speak the loudest. So next time I sense God’s silence (because there will be a next time), I’m going to be more aware of His presence. Next time I face the long wait of Saturday, I’m not going to give up. I’m going to have faith. I’m going to hold on. I’m going to keep believing. I’m going to wait. I’m not going to stop trusting Him.
And I’m going to remind myself that although it’s Saturday, Sunday’s coming…really soon.