Quietly in Faith
It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord. (Lamentations 3:26)
“Take heed, and be quiet, fear not, neither be fainthearted” (Isaiah 7:4). “In quietness and in confidence shall be your strength” (Isaiah 30:15). Such words reveal to us the close connection between quietness and faith. They show us what a deep need there is of quietness, as an element of true waiting upon God.
God is a being of such infinite greatness and glory, and our nature has become so estranged from Him, that it requires one whole heart and desires set upon Him, even in some little measure, to know and receive Him. Everything that is not God, that excites our fears or stirs our efforts or awakens our hopes or makes us glad, hinders us in our perfect waiting on Him. The message is one of deep meaning; “It is good that a man should……quietly wait.”
Scripture abundantly testifies how the very thought of God in His majesty and holiness should silence us: “The Lord is in his holy temple; let all the earth keep silence before him” (Habakkuk 2:10). “Hold thy peace at the presence of the Lord God” (Zephaniah 1:7). “Be silent, O all flesh, before the Lord; for he is raised up out of his holy habitation” (Zechariah 2:13)
As long as the waiting on God is chiefly regarded as an end toward more effectual prayer, and the obtaining of our petitions, this spirit of perfect quietness will not be obtained. But when it is seen that waiting on God is itself an unspeakable blessedness- one of the highest forms of fellowship with the Holy One- the adoration of Him in His glory will of necessity humble the soul into a holy stillness, making way for God to speak and reveal Himself. Then it comes to the fulfillment of the precious promise: “The haughtiness of men shall be bowed down, and the Lord alone shall be exalted in that day” (Isaiah 2:11)
It almost seems to be contradictory to be told to cry out to God and then to be told to keep silent before Him. However, both have their place and order. When then should we cry out to the Lord and when it it the time to keep silent?
As the Hebrews flee Egypt they come to the Red Sea. Standing on the banks of the sea, they begin to hear the rumble of Egyptian chariots in the distance and drawing closer. They begin to lift up their voices in fear and I expect that soon it became a roar of noise. I have no doubt it was fear tinged and anger was soon the mood.
“As Pharaoh approached, the Israelites looked up and saw the Egyptians marching after them, and they were very frightened; so the Israelites cried out to the Lord. Then they said to Moses, “Is it because there are no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the wilderness? What is this that you have done to us by bringing us out of Egypt? Did we not say to you in Egypt, ‘Leave us alone; let us serve the Egyptians?’ For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians [as slaves] than to die in the wilderness.” Then Moses said to the people, “Do not be afraid! Take your stand [be firm and confident and undismayed] and see the salvation of the Lord which He will accomplish for you today; for those Egyptians whom you have seen today, you will never see again. The Lord will fight for you while you [only need to] keep silent and remain calm.” The Lord said to Moses, “Why do you cry to Me? Tell the sons of Israel to move forward [toward the sea].”
As we can learn from this, there is that time to make our situation known to God and then there is the time to stand quietly and wait for His deliverance. This quiet waiting before God is the wait of faith and confidence, not only in the ability of God but in our relationship as sons and daughters of God.
We read of the blind man who as he was sitting beside the road, began to cry out to Jesus. Those around him pressured him to be silent, but he cried out even more until he captured the attention of Jesus and then he stood quietly before Him.
Imagine if you were in a precarious situation and needed to be rescued. I’m sure you would yell and yell for help but as soon as you saw that help was coming to you, you would cease and wait quietly and expectantly until help arrived.
But there is a deeper thing as we wait for God. Imagine if you as parent had been on a journey and when you arrived home, your children met you at the door. They appeared to be excited to see you, but then they ask the question, “What did you bring me?” Now imagine that you reached into your bag and gave them the expected gift and they grab the gift and run off to play. They have gotten so focused on the gift that you were no longer needed. You had done what they needed you to do. You have served as the gift bearer and now they have the gift, you are no longer necessary. What do you think this would feel like? Yet how often is our approach to God only when we have a petition or need. How often is the intensity of our prayers directly in proportion to the depth of our need. Sometimes it must seem to God that we want Him to be only the blessing-giver or the need-supplier.
Now imagine that you have come home from a trip with gifts for your children and while they are excited about the gifts and grateful that you have brought them, they set them aside so they can just crawl up in your lap and be with you. Imagine that their joy of your arrival is more that you came rather than over the gifts you brought. This is what waiting on God is. It is the joy and delight of being with Him that exceeds the gladness of any blessing or help you receive from Him.
When the seeking of God-the Bible uses the phrase, “seeking His face”- focuses more on His presence than on His power we find this place of quiet faith. No longer do we need to shout or cry out, for He is near to us and with us. Our delight is not what He can do for us but our delight is just to be with Him.
If you have a dear friend, companion, spouse, and you find yourself just enjoying being in the room with them, you have grasped this concept. There doesn’t have to be conversation or activity. It’s enough to just be with them. There are no requests, no demands, just two people sitting together and enjoying each other’s company. This is the place that God desires us to come with Him.
Yes, we will make our requests known. Yes, we will tell Him about our need. Yes, we will bring our burdens and cares to Him. And yes, we will open our hearts and He will share His desires and His wishes with us. But beyond this, we will just enjoy being together with our Friend more than any thing else. This is what the delight of prayer and Bible reading is. It is the intimate communication between to old friends. We talk to God and God talks to us. No formalities, no ordered script, just two friends being together and sharing together in the exact same way two old friends(human) can meet and spend the day rambling through conversation without any agenda.
Dr. John Thompson