Silence is difficult
by Brent Baker
For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence,
for my hope is from Him.
He only is my rock and my salvation,
my fortress; I shall not be shaken.
On God rests my salvation and my glory;
my mighty rock, my refuge is God.
Trust in Him at all times, O people;
pour out your heart before Him;
God is a refuge for us.
I don’t mean quiet. We can achieve, tolerate, and even enjoy quiet. We love to go on a quiet run away from the noisy world and its worries. We love to take a long, peaceful walk by the lake. We love the idea of a quiet hike in the Rockies with nothing but the chirping of a bird or the scampering of a squirrel to break the stillness. We love the idea of a quiet autumn morning on the back porch with a cup of coffee and a favorite book or weekend newspaper. We can tolerate—and even enjoy—quiet. But silence is difficult. Quiet is the whispering wind; silence is the muggy absence of it. Quiet often creates peace; silence creates anxiety. Quiet requires seeking and discovering; silence requires waiting and surrender. Silence is empty. Silence is worrying. Silence is uncontrollable. Silence is a vacuous. Silence suggests a noise or voice is desired and expected but isn’t coming. Silence suggests the absence of something capable of responding. A desire unmet. An invitation unrequited. There is a relational feel (or absence) to silence. Silence is difficult.
In our lives, God sometimes feels quiet. That is tolerable, or if we lean in to listen and discover, even enjoyable. But it’s a whole other thing when God feels silent. What do we need when we sense God is silent with us? An ANSWER! To our request. To our issue. To our problem. To our doubt. Right? No. An answer isn’t enough. It’s too temporary and too small. It’s not worth placing your hope in. It won’t last and might not lead to what you hope it will lead to. New requests arise. New doubts surface. New issues emerge. New pain develops. God may graciously answer our requests, but we won’t find peace in the waiting until our hope is Him. That’s what the psalmist is proclaiming to his own soul, and that’s what we must re-preach to ourselves time and time again:
“For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for your hope is from Him.”
If you are growing bitter or resentful waiting in silence, it might be because you are still waiting on the wrong thing. You have misguided hope. Your desire for an answer has become your beginning and your end. So God lets you wait because He knows what you ultimately need is not an answer, but Him. He is the answer. You just aren’t convinced of it yet. Your answer is still more important than Him. Only painful silence could be so convincing. An answer simply won’t do. He won’t let you settle for less. He quietly, with bridled power and steadfast love (see end of Psalm 62), guides you through silence to a hope unfailing—a rock, a fortress, and a refuge for your soul. If ever you feel utterly alone in the waiting, find company and comfort in Another whose desperate cry was unresolved, whose question was left unanswered in His hour of need:
“My God, my God, why have You forsaken Me?”
The Lord Jesus. He already asked the question you struggle with in the silence. How did He endure such painful silence? He delighted above all things in the Father. So should you and I. Our Rock. Our Salvation. Our Fortress. Our Refuge. Our hope is from Him. Cling to Him, O my soul.
“Trust Him at all times, pour out your heart before Him. God is a refuge for us.”