A father answers the questions of his child and they are happy together, in joyful dialogue.
Then the child asks a question, and the father must think deeply—not just for the answer, but to reach to the essence of this answer so he may bring it to the world of his child. For a long while, the father is quiet.
And so, the child becomes anxious and begins to cry. “Father, where are you? Why do you no longer talk to me? Why have you deserted me for your own thoughts?”
And then the father begins to speak, but this time it is the deepest core of his mind that flows into the mind and heart of the child. Such a flow that with this the child, too, may become a father.
The child is us. The time of silence is now.
When the spirit of Man is dark, when the flow gates of Above seem all but sealed, prepare for liberation.
Rabbi Tzvi Freeman
From the wisdom of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, of righteous memory
“A Time of Silence”
There’s an old joke that says the difference between a man and a woman is that a man can sit with his friend without them talking to each other for five minutes and not worry that his friend is angry with him. It’s meant to illustrate the different approaches to communication and relationship men and women seem to naturally take, but as with many such jokes, there’s a kernel of truth at the core.
But beyond a certain point, even the most stoic man or woman gets a little uncomfortable being with another person who isn’t talking to them at all. Certainly, if you are in a very close relationship such as Father and Son, you’d expect fairly frequent exchanges of thoughts, feelings, and ideas when you’re together. Sometimes when someone close to you isn’t talking to you, you can interpret the silence as anger or disinterest or even emotional abandonment.
We have one of the world’s most poignant examples of this at our fingertips:
From noon until three in the afternoon darkness came over all the land. About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”). –Matthew 27:45-46
How many times did Jesus say, “I and the Father are One” (John 10:29) and “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father” (John 14:9)? Yet, it was necessary for there to be a temporary and devastating silence between Father and Son, in this case, for the sake of the entire world (and see Acts 13:32-33 for a parallel to the Rebbe’s words, “Such a flow that with this the child, too, may become a father”).
How about the silences between us and God? You may not be aware of all the times when God experiences your silence and your lack of attention toward Him, but you are acutely aware of when you desperately need to hear from God and instead, find only His silence. Like the child in the parable quoted above, and like Jesus on the cross, you may cry out in your loneliness and fear that God has abandoned you in your pain. But has He?
There is an old proverb that says “Sometimes silence is the best answer.”
Silence is generally something we try to avoid. We aren’t comfortable with it. Think about the awkward silences we’ve each encountered and how often our response is to say something. We have a need to break the silence and perhaps too often we ignore the actual need FOR silence.
from the Gathering Sparks blog.
Sometimes silence is part of the necessary response of God to us, not because He doesn’t care, but because we need to exist for a certain amount of time, in silence. We intensely want to hear from God when we are afraid, alone, or in pain, but at times, God only gives us what we need, and does so for our benefit.
Turn, LORD, and deliver me;
save me because of your unfailing love.
Among the dead no one proclaims your name.
Who praises you from the grave?
I am worn out from my groaning.
All night long I flood my bed with weeping
and drench my couch with tears.
My eyes grow weak with sorrow;
they fail because of all my foes. –Psalm 6:4-7
On my bed I remember you;
I think of you through the watches of the night.
Because you are my help,
I sing in the shadow of your wings.
I cling to you;
your right hand upholds me. –Psalm 63:6-8
Sometimes we draw closer to God when we don’t hear from Him and when we, in our anguish, remember who He is and what He has done; when we in faith and trust, acknowledge His Kingship and Glory, though His voice is silent.
Then, when we do hear from Him, it is at the right time and from God’s deepest core, we are given the strength to overcome and to be liberated.