February 9

“He answered her not a word.” Matthew 15:23

“He will be silent in his love.” Zephaniah 3:27

It may be a child of God is reading these words who has had some great crushing sorrow, some bitter disappointment, some heart-breaking blow from a totally unexpected quarter. You are longing for your Master’s voice bidding you “Be of good cheer,” but only silence and a sense of mystery and misery meet you—“He answered her not a word.”

God’s tender heart must often ache listening to all the sad, complaining cries which arise from our weak, impatient hearts, because we do not see that for our own sakes He answers not at all or otherwise than seems best to our tear-blinded, short-sighted eyes. The silences of Jesus are as eloquent as His speech and may be a sign, not of His disapproval, but of His approval and of a deep purpose of blessing for you. (Streams in the Desert)

I invested the decade of the 90’s in missionary service in Africa and India, so I am still becoming acquainted with popular American culture from that period. Occasionally I bump up against something I have never seen or heard that many other Americans assume everyone knows. One of these is the music of Garth Brooks. While many in this country are able to sing along with his numerous chart busters, I am still hearing most of his lyrics and tunes for the first time. I remember where and when it was that I first heard Garth croon, “Some of God’s greatest blessings…” The message registered instantly as good theology and a great personal reminder. God’s silence in the wake of our petition is most often the profoundest expression of His boundless love and infinite mercy. Although I cannot carry a tune in a bucket, I recount times when what I wanted most would have caused me to miss God’s grandest plan. My problem is the self-centered tendency to request and react based on what I want at the moment, without regard to God’s purposes or the eventual fallout for anyone else. Selfish prayer is not prayer at all; it is more akin to making a wish list for Santa at Christmas. Authentic prayer is decidedly Christ-centered. It is right to pray for ourselves, but always with a view to God’s glory and Kingdom advance—not as concession, but as steadfast commitment. God’s silence should elicit praise, and drive me nearer to the heart of Christ.

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