Sometimes we just need to stop talking.
Job has done a lot of complaining, “Though I cry, ‘Violence!’ I get no response; though I call for help, there is no justice: (19: 7); “Is my complaint directed to a human being? Why should I not be impatient? (21: 4); “I cry out to you, God, but you do not answer; I stand up, but you merely look at me” (30: 20).
But when God does speak to him, Job falls silent, repenting in dust and ashes.
The man of affliction in Lamentations 3: 1 seems to have suffered a similar fate to Job, attributing his suffering to the Lord’s hand. But rather than shouting angrily at God, he waits in silence.
“Because of the Lord’s great love, we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion;
therefore I will wait for him.”
The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him,
to the one who seeks him;
it is good to wait quietly
for the salvation of the Lord” (Lam 3: 22 – 26)
Silence is not devoid of faith. The man of affliction turns his despair into hope. He expresses faith by waiting in silence.
There is, of course, a place and a time for telling God how you feel. To ask questions, shed tears, voice the pain in your heart. David does this a lot. For example, in Psalm 13, he asks how long God will hide His face from him. But, like most of the Psalms, when emotions have run their course, David moves to declarations of faith: “I trust in your unfailing love” (Ps 13: 5).
On many occasions, David finishes his complaining and articulates his faith in God by turning to rejoicing and singing. In other circumstances, he speaks to his soul, but perhaps silence is the ultimate expression of trust. David often demonstrates a heart committed to the faithfulness of God with songs of praise and shouts of celebration, but the man of affliction seems to go further, beyond words from his mouth. He completes his worship with silent waiting.
I have found that when I sit and choose to be quiet, aware of God’s Presence, I notice my environment more – His creation in the sights and sounds around me. I give them a voice rather than crowding them out with my own.
And the gentle whispers of His creation speak of a God of wonder, infinite ability and beauty – the very things I need to be reminded of. When I am silent, maybe I get a chance to hear His still, small voice.
In repentance and rest is your salvation,
in quietness and trust is your strength (Is 30: 15)
Suggested prayer: Find a time and place to come into the Lord’s presence uninterrupted. Open the Scriptures, perhaps a familiar psalm and allow the words to minister to you. Pray the words back to God. Tell the Lord the troubles in your heart. Let your words run their course but then be silent before Him. Stay there for a while.