Silence is golden
… A time to keep silence, And a time to speak…
Ecclesiastes 3:7 (NKJV)
Silence is golden. In the book of Job, Bildad could have used this advice; Job’s misery was compounded by his well-meaning friends. They felt he needed an evaluation of his circumstances, whereas they probably served him best when they sat sympathetically and silently with him for a week: ‘So they sat down with him on the ground seven days and seven nights, and no one spoke a word to him, for they saw that his grief was very great.’ (Job 2:13). There are times when we see family members, friends, neighbours, and even strangers, suffering greatly and we are at a loss for words. Maybe it’s a time to stay silent, reserving our opinions for a later date. In the meantime we can take the matter to God in prayer.
Job had money, a successful business, a great family, recognition, and a good reputation. Besides all of this, we are told that he was a deeply religious man. When he expressed his pain and suffering, his friends felt compelled to respond. Bildad thought he understood Job’s situation. Job had just lost all his oxen, donkeys, sheep, shepherds, camels, servants, children and his house (Job 1:14-19). Then he was afflicted with a terrible case of boils from head to foot (Job 2:7).
Bildad logically concluded that if bad things caused bad results, then good behaviour would merit great blessings (Job 8:20-22). It probably would have been wiser for Bildad to remain silent. Proverbs 17:28 tells us, ‘Even a fool is counted wise when he holds his peace; When he shuts his lips, he is considered perceptive.’
Job’s reaction to his great loss and suffering was very different from the normal human reaction, of blaming everything and everyone, and maybe even God, for their predicament. But not Job: ‘Then Job arose, tore his robe, and shaved his head; and he fell to the ground and worshiped. And he said: “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, And naked shall I return there. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; Blessed be the name of the Lord.” In all this Job did not sin nor charge God with wrong.’
When we meet someone who is going through great pain and suffering, what are the first words that come out of our mouths? Well, like Job’s friends who sat with him for seven days and nights and stayed silent, there may be a time in a person’s suffering that all we can do is pray, stay silent, showing love, care, and compassion. At an opportune moment we can ask God for the right words to say.
Almighty God, we give you praise and thanks for all the blessings you shower on us. Fill us with peace, love and compassion. Bless the lonely, heal the sick and surround us with your light.
In Jesus’ name. Amen
Study by Dennis Payne
About the writer:
Dennis Payne is a Deacon in the Central London congregation of Grace Communion International.
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