Sidelined By Silence
August 27, 2018
Verse for the Week: Isaiah 30:15; “In quietness and in confidence shall be your strength”
Have you ever chased after God wanting Him to fulfill a deep desire of your heart? A promise from old that continues to linger unfulfilled year after year. The kind that steals your joy when you are provoked to remember its conspicuous absence.
Well, Hannah, knew this well. Her story is found in 1 Samuel chapter 1. In short, she was barren and desperate for a child. Her husband, Elkanah also had another wife, Peninnah who had many children. Year after year they went to the temple as a family to sacrifice to the Lord. However, Peninnah (the other wife) provoked Hannah until she wept because of her barrenness.
This annual journey to the temple was wrenching for Hannah. The pain of being in the presence of God, the very one who could change the situation for her but didn’t, was more than she could bear.
I’m sure you ache for Hannah as I do, and yet, God placed her rival, Peninnah in her path to provoke her heart back into alignment to His purpose. Truth is, God can and will use anything to draw us back into His will. It turns out that He had a plan to give Hannah the desire of her heart, but because of the great silence that shrouded her prayers, she was letting go and losing hope.
You see, when promises remain unfulfilled over time, we tend to accept their omission and become comfortable in their absence. We even rectify our hopelessness by justifying that maybe we heard God wrong. This justification allows us to disregard the desire and act as if it never really existed.
I’ve been known to say, “I don’t want to ‘want’ anything I don’t have, or can’t have.” This form of resistance helps to keep my heart safe. It’s a protective mechanism I’ve honed over time in the midst of unanswered prayers.
I’m sure you have your own mechanisms of survival against the pain of unanswered prayers. Some work better than others. And some just flat out keep us from experiencing the power of faith.
I am happy to say, Hannah’s story ends well. She received her promise and bore a child, Samuel. We are desperate for a happy ever after, aren’t we? The hope of this ending beats strong as we pine for our own happily ever after.
Although Hannah received the promise for a child, in her desperation, she had made a vow to give him back in service to the LORD in answer to her prayer. So in the end, she gave him back. Yes, you heard me right. Hannah honored her vow. Standing in that very difficult place of decision, she gave back that which God had given her.
God had a grand plan, and He invited Hannah into the great silence to make sure she was on board. Hannah’s son, Samuel, became the spiritual leader of Israel. As the prophet and judge of the nation, Samuel anointed the nation’s first two kings, Saul and David. That is a grand plan for a powerful and purposeful life if I’ve ever heard one.
God has plans for us too. So even when the silence is so thick we can’t see our way through it, rest assured, light is on the horizon whether we can see it or not, perceive it or not. It’s there because He is there.
Our challenge is to endure the silence, grope our way through the darkness, or even aimlessly wander through the wilderness if we have to. For when we do, we allow the process to refine us; to reveal more of who God is forming us to be. This process is one of becoming if we let it.
This week I’ve been challenged by silence. A deep and penetrating silence. In the cavernous void of outside opinions and the clamor of cultural noise, I’ve explored my heart and my thoughts about God and self, faith and fear, desire and need.
Do I have all the answers I’m longing for as I re-emerge into the lightness of the life I am to lead? No, I do not. But I’m different for enduring the silence and the questions asked of me there.
Hannah had to wrestle with her own tough questions asked of her in the dark night of silence. Yet, in the end, I believe we all want to make the right decisions, keep our word, honor the God we serve. But more often than not, the follow-through has a very high cost. Sometimes higher than we are willing to pay.
Hannah came to a point when the silence had done its job and strengthened her resolve. Although her heart was sad, and she would once again experience a great void in giving Samuel, her promise child back to the service of the Lord, she knew it was a plan with a purpose, so she obeyed.
Chapter 2 verse 21 reveals that God was gracious to Hannah and gifted her five more children after Samuel. She knew what it was to endure the silence and yet found strength to do the impossible. Like so many stories of the Bible, Hannah’s story is one of pain and purpose revealed in the stillness of divine silence.
There will be a time when you find yourself in the stillness of silence, where unanswered prayers weigh heavy on your heart, and you can’t see your way out. I hope you will find strength in Hannah’s story and know that it’s in the quietness you will discover a strength for the impossible. God has a good plan awaiting you.
Isaiah 30:15; “In quietness and in confidence shall be your strength”
Lord God, draw me into your secret place of quietness. Teach me, heal me, and strengthen me to embrace the confidence that you have a good plan for my life, even when it feels impossible. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Reflect and Respond:
Have you ever experienced a circumstance or season in life that challenges your resolve to be who you’ve determined to be? One that threatens a spiritual or emotional darkness, and presents questions that pierce deeper than your faith?
It’s okay to let the silence sideline you for a bit. Take some time to sit in the quietness and let it do its work. Once you find a confidence and strength in knowing God’s plan, get back out there. You have a grand life to live!
Hugs for a great week and remember, you are not alone. Be blessed sweet child of God. There is strength to be found in the silence.