This could just be me. But sometimes it feels like the silent seasons morph into something like the silent treatment. It wields a striking resemblance to instances when a partner, parent, sibling, or friend purposely ignores you as a punitive measure. A control tactic deployed to keep you in check, or strong arm you to bend to their will. It’s an unfair hand to play, and in my opinion characteristic of an individual with stunted emotional growth.
But from time to time, I mess up, and call something what it is not. Delirious from fatigue. Maybe bitterness and anger. Frustration? Definitely. My floundering emotions defiantly accuse God.
I question His intent and charge Him with indifference and abandonment. I call Him out for playing favorites or being too slow. “Lord I see what you are doing for so and so. When will it be my turn?” I may even go so far as to insinuate that He does not know what He is doing and proceed to look for manipulative shortcuts to help Him along. When none of those stick, I push to make sense of things and like Jobs friends put myself on trial. “Maybe God is punishing me for something. Could it be that thing I did in ’09?”
The wait can feel like being locked in a boiler room. No. A lion’s den seems more appropriate. Which makes me wonder if those looking in see a +1. Do they see Jesus in the den with me?
Steven Furtick posted this the other day, “the places of your greatest isolation will often become the places of your greatest revelation.” Could he be talking about the silent seasons when God seems so far away, and His blessings a distant memory? Could he be talking about the silent seasons when we are itching for details and God only gives a directive to “go”? Could he be talking about the silent seasons when God repeatedly says “I am enough” but we want to be on stage, front and center, spot lit for all to see? Could he be talking about the silent seasons when God is urging stillness, but we are pressed for activities to look like we are doing something and so we do not feel like the world is leaving us behind? Could he be talking about the silent seasons when we ask God for simple alphabets, and He gives us a mathematical exercise? When we ask for A and He gives Z?
Job and his friends tried to make sense of his situation. They got some things right, and many things wrong. God is indeed compassionate, but even with our best efforts we cannot manipulate Him into playing by our rules. God is indeed just, but not according to our play book. He lives out of bounds, not confined to the walls of our limited understanding. He welcomes our questions but when we veer into the lane of questioning Him…
God listened to Job and his friends go on and on and remained silent. For 37 chapters, not one word. Maddening, isn’t it? Then in chapter 38 He spoke. As He said to Job then, He has said to me and maybe to you. “Who is this that questions my wisdom with such ignorant words?” Since you know so much, “where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth?” Since you can do bad all by yourself, “why aren’t you the one supporting it’s foundations?” Since you are so high and mighty, “have you ever commanded the morning to appear…?”
I read somewhere that the Shepherd’s tree found in Namibia has the deepest documented roots of 70 meters. The beautiful thing I learned about this tree is that it thrives in desert conditions. It has been observed that it works overtime, providing shade from the scorching sun, sustenance for livestock, and even going as far as offering medicinal benefits for an ailment or two. God in his infinite wisdom created this tree, and furnished it with everything it needs to survive the harsh elements that surrounds it, all the while being relevant and purposeful. God put all that effort into a tree. Yet, we question His intentions for us?
Humbled, Job responds to God and says, “You asked, ‘who is this that questions my wisdom with such ignorance?’ It is I—and I was talking about things I knew nothing about, things far too wonderful for me. You said, ‘Listen and I will speak! I have some questions for you, and you must answer them.’ I had only heard about you before, but now I have seen you with my own eyes. I take back everything I said, and I sit in dust and ashes to show my repentance.” |Job 42:3-6|
Can you guess my favorite part of Job’s spiel? I had only heard about you before, but now I have seen you with my own eyes. If that ain’t a whiplash of REVELATION!
The book of Job ends beautifully. God gives him beauty for ashes. Turns his mourning to joy. Silences his accusers. Blesses him doubly. Job was made new. Described ‘only’ as a man of integrity in the beginning, he was now a man who also walked with God. He traded his self-reliance and self-righteousness for immeasurable yards of grace.
The silent seasons are for pruning, and growth. For laying down crowns and lifting hands in worship. For weaning off milk and digesting bread. For unfollowing man and following Jesus. For cultivating deeper roots.
Let us not mislabel stillness for silence. Or paint God with the same brush as the person(s) that played god. God is in the hustle and bustle of life. And in the crest and troughs of unwanted struggles, there is a constant hum of His divine presence. Let it be said of me that my valley seasons ministered God to another. That my wait or struggle revealed Jesus to my neighbor. That someone met the Almighty in my silent season.