By Sara Parker
With these four…
I don’t get a whole lot of this…
And I’m not talking about sleep (although, I certainly do not get enough of that either)…
I’m talking about SILENCE.
Blessed, beautiful, read-a-book-without-interruption, take-a-shower-without-someone-banging-on-the-door, listen-to-the-radio-and-sing-along-to-an-entire-song kind of SILENCE.
Lately, I have been tense. Too much noise. Too much chaos. Just. Too. Much.
This weekend, I had the opportunity to attend an annual convention sponsored by the Texas Music Teachers Association--four hours away from home. In a hotel. For three nights. By. My. SELF.
In between sleeping and eating and attending classes and listening to performances, I stole moments back at my room and reveled in the silence. One evening during my stay, I was searching for something else entirely in the Bible when I found myself skimming over the story of the flood. It’s a story I’ve read countless times. I never give it much thought. So many of those Old Testament stories just don’t feel relevant.
But that evening, my eye was drawn down to the study notes in my Bible, where it was explained that Noah and his family had been inside the ark for 150 days before they heard from God.
One hundred and fifty days.
Imagine this for a moment: Nearly half a year in a boat, with nothing but water in sight. Everyone on earth has perished but you—and God is silent.
Maybe you’re walking that road right now. Hopeless, uncertain, weary. No clear path, no resolution, no way out. Only silence.
And not the silence you crave when your kids won’t stop bickering. No. It’s the kind of silence you dread. The kind of silence that breeds fear, doubt, anger, and loneliness. Where is God? Is He even here anymore? Was He ever here at all?
I wonder if Noah ever had a moment of doubt while he waited with his family and all those animals for five months with no end in sight. Were there moments when anxiety came upon him so fiercely that he nearly forgot just who instructed him to build that ark in the first place?
Silence can be lovely or lonely.
It can be a gift or a test.
It can fill you up or tear you down.
But, eventually, the silence breaks.
I came home from my trip with a renewed eagerness to spend time with my children. The silence had been lovely, but I was ready for the noise that greeted me when I walked in the door. Now, just four days later, it’s hard to remember what that silence felt like.
But I doubt I will ever forget the silence that oppressed me during the first 18 months of my husband’s battle with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Doctors could not agree on a diagnosis, my husband was bed ridden, our sons were 1 and 3, and we had just moved across the country, far away from all friends and family. Tears dampened my pillow nearly every night, but brought me no solace. God was silent.
It was a painful, echoing, long-term solitude that I had never experienced before. Some days I poured over the pages of my Bible, desperately seeking connection. Other days, I angrily shoved it in my nightstand drawer, not to open it again for weeks, sometimes months.
Eventually, I discovered something reassuring: Even when God is silent, He is still very present. He is compassionate and merciful, orchestrating the coming days and months and years. Hopefully I’ll remember this lesson when the next silence falls. It sure would save me a lot of heartache.