“Okay, kids, let’s play the quiet game.”
We’ve heard (or quite possibly, said) that before!
Oh yes, the “quiet game” is a favorite of teachers and parents alike. Weary of incessant noise, adults hope children will not pick up on this ruse to “trick” their little darlings into a few moments of precious silence.
Ironically, as much as we seek out quiet and rest in our personal lives, we can’t stand silence in our relationship with God. When God suggests that some silence is overdue, we protest that He isn’t answering our prayers or listening to our pleas.
Perhaps that is how Mary and Martha felt in Luke 11. They sent for Jesus, because their brother Lazarus had become dangerously ill.
The message was short, and the expectation was obvious:
Lord, behold, he whom You love is sick. (Luke 11:3b, NKJV)
The sisters had no doubt that Jesus loved them and their brother. Jesus Himself states His love for this family a few verses later (Luke 11:5). Surely, they thought, Jesus would hurry as soon as He heard the news.
And yet, He delayed. His answer was silence.
Can you imagine how Mary and Martha must have felt?
Constantly checking the road for signs of Jesus. Looking up from their work or glancing over their shoulders every few minutes, expecting to find Jesus standing there. Starting to panic that He might not show up in time.
In fact, He didn’t. Lazarus died. The silence was deafening.
A few weeks back, we looked at Martha and the challenge Jesus had given her to take time to listen at His feet. We hoped that she had learned from Him and not shrugged off His admonition.
I think she grew from that experience, because when Jesus did finally break this painful silence and show up, Martha revealed her unwavering faith even though her heart was broken and disappointed.
Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that whatever You ask of God, God will give You. (Luke 11:21)
Martha didn’t understand the purpose of Jesus’ silence, but she believed anyway.
Author and Bible teacher Oswald Chambers had this to say on the subject of God’s silence in our lives.
God’s silences are his answers… His silence is the sign that He is bringing you into a marvelous understanding of Himself.
This certainly was true in Mary and Martha’s case. Jesus was silent so they could come to a deeper understanding of how He not only gives life, but is the Life.
Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die…” (Luke 11:25)
Through Jesus’ silence, Martha gained an even deeper faith. Silence was not absence. It was delayed abundance.
Do you feel as though God has been silent in your life, even though you have been seeking Him?
If so, may I encourage you with this thought: God’s silence is not a refusal. It is a sovereignly planned season, designed to stretch your faith and deepen your intimacy with Him in prayer and in His Word.
The silence won’t last forever. Jesus will show up, and then we will see with fresh eyes that the real treasure is not our long-awaited answer but a richer relationship with our Lord made possible only through the season of silence.