Thursday, October 4, 2007

The Silence of God

Yesterday my questionably-recovering, weak, anemic, drugged, sickly sister learned that a friend of hers just died. He was vacationing with his family, went into some pretty rough waters, and got caught in a rip-tide. They haven’t found his body yet.

The news is hard on me, partially because it is hard to see my sister trying to take the news like a trouper, partially because I am only just now getting used to the idea that I had almost lost her.

Somehow the lesson that I serve a gracious God who spared the life of my sister is not what I want to be hearing right now. I want him to answer bigger questions:
  • Why did God save me from drowning when I as an idiot high-schooler tried to swim across a lake with a bolder tied to me, but not the life of my sister’s friend?
  • Why did God save my life when I had a nearly-fatal car accident at 16, but not the life of my friend’s sister when she died at the same age?
  • Why did God give me the couple inches that saved my life when I got hit by a car last spring, but not the life of my friend who got killed the same way a few weeks later?
Sometimes the reason I stop listening to God is that he has a history of being so silent to my questions. My listening comes with stipulations: “God, you have a lot of explaining to do, and I’m ready to hear it.” And God is silent. So I stop listening.

The thing about listening to God is that you don’t always get to chose what you hear. Sometimes God ignores my questions and takes me back to the ones that didn’t seem relevant. He reminds me that he saved my sister’s life last week. He reminds me that he often saves mine, despite myself. He reminds me of his care, and that his care applies to my sister now in her grief, and to me as I cannot take her pain away.

But that wasn’t my question.

Perhaps true listening requires the humility to allow the questions to be rewritten.
Why do you contend against him,
saying, “He will answer none of man’s words”?
For God speaks in one way,
and in two, though man does not perceive it.
Job 33:13-14

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