Certain people have been on my prayer list for years. Some of them are not yet saved and because God must do that saving work in their hearts, I’ve prayed and prayed. For a few, He has answered and lives have been changed, but for many of them, nothing happens. God is silent.
The story of Lazarus begins that way. Martha and Mary knew Jesus well. They knew His power and that He cared deeply about them. When their brother became ill, Jesus was the go-to guy. He could easily heal Lazarus, but . . . .
Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So, when he heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was. (John 11:5–6)
Jesus lingered . . . in silence. And in that silence, Lazarus died. Most know the rest of the story. Jesus went to the tomb, called this man’s name and, “The man who had died came out, his hands and feet bound with linen strips, and his face wrapped with a cloth.” At that, Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.” (John 11:44)
For Martha and Mary, this silence and Jesus’ slowness in coming meant a greater thing than they could imagine. Both of them knew that the dead would rise in the resurrection at the end, the last day. As they wept for their brother, they still trusted Jesus as the Christ, the Son of God. Yet both of them reasoned that had He arrived earlier, Lazarus would not have died. At that point, they thought they had lost their brother, but they did not lose their faith in Jesus.
In today’s devotional, Chambers asks, “Has God trusted you with a silence—a silence that is big with meaning? God’s silences are His answers.” Chambers adds that one wonderful thing about God’s silence is that His stillness gets into me — increasing my confidence that He has heard me; His silence is the proof that He has.
I’d not thought of God’s silence that way. It seems more like a ‘no’ or at best a ‘wait’ yet as soon as I read this, I knew it was true. This silence regarding some of my prayer is an assurance. As Chambers says, when I assume the greatest blessing from God is a ‘yes’ answers to my prayers, He will bless me in that way, but I will miss out on the blessing of silence, the blessing of knowing Him well, of knowing that His silence is a deeper thing than what I once thought.
He is teaching me that prayer is to glorify Him. He is also teaching me that silence is connected to intimacy. I can sit with Him, walk with Him, even pray to Him and hear nothing — simply because I now know that He is with me, loves me with an everlasting love, and I can bring Him glory by retaining strong faith in Him, even when He says and does nothing. He is who He is, and that is enough.