TERRE HAUTE —
Most of us, if we are honest, are bothered by silence. Perhaps we are forced to think too much when there is no noise to distract us. Perhaps silence makes us feel lonely. Like there is no one else around. Like no one cares to listen to us. Like we are truly alone in the universe.
I wonder if it was like that with Lazarus’ sisters, Mary and Martha. They had just sent word to their good friend, Jesus, that Lazarus was dying. Would Jesus please come? They knew that if Jesus came, He would heal Lazarus. They had seen Him heal others, and as much as Jesus loved Lazarus, they knew Jesus would heal him, too.
They were full of anticipation, but they were met with . . . silence. Nothing. No Jesus. No word of His coming. No message of compassion or hope. Not even a lousy get well card. Silence. Then, Lazarus died. Still, silence from Jesus. Mary and Martha buried Lazarus and were in the middle of their mourning, when suddenly, there was Jesus. Their response was instantaneous: they were joyful at seeing Jesus, but regretful of His silence.
But we all know from reading the account in John 11, that Jesus had something better in mind for Lazarus and his sisters. Something that would be so great, so miraculous, so wonderful, so fantastic, they would not be able to contain their silence at what Jesus had done for them. Lazarus, who was once very, very dead, was now very much alive. Talk about being time to praise the Lord!
But first, Mary and Martha had to go through the silence. It was a time when it seemed like Jesus was ignoring them, when their prayers were not being answered. The silence from Jesus was excruciating and painful, and I’m sure they could not understand the silence. Surely, if they had known what Jesus was going to do, the silence would not have been so difficult.
We have it easier than Mary and Martha. See, they didn’t know that Jesus was going to do something so great. But we do know what God will do when we call on Him. In Jeremiah 33:3, God tells us, “Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.”
The problem is not with God, it’s with us. We call on Him expecting instantaneous and audible answers to our prayers. Perhaps what God is doing with the silence is preparing us for great and unsearchable things. Perhaps He is trusting us with His silence, working in us, bringing us to a fuller understanding of Who He is and whose we are.
So, if we ask something of God and we don’t receive an immediate answer, we should remember what happened to Lazarus, Mary and Martha. What they received from Jesus was greater by far than what they were asking for. All they had to do was wait through the silence.
Verna Davis, speaker and writer, maybe reached at email@example.com.