Chuck Pugh was a masterful negotiator. He was not articulate nor prescient. He was no maven of technology, but he wielded the one tool in his negotiation toolbox with devastating effect. Chuck knew the power of silence. He understood that prolonged silence would awaken profound uncertainty in the minds of vendors regarding their proposals. We witnessed this time and time again.
Vendors would make their pitch to our team – hardware, software, development environments, networking gear. As engineers we would sit like a silent chorus in a Greek tragedy as Chuck worked his magic. They offered and Chuck would sit, stare, and create a looming silence. He never spoke first. Like men on the anxious bench, the vendors would offer up concession after concession. All born out of the insecurity his silence conceived.
Salesmen are afraid of silence. It is the one objection they are not trained to overcome. But then most of us are afraid of silence. It unsettles us. It makes us insecure, uncertain, afraid. Nothing heightens tension and drama like silence. We declare, speak, express and the void says nothing back. Nothing is more invalidating than silence. We think more silence is to be desired. And then we spend the day alone.
But no silence is more unsettling than the silence of God. One of the most comforting truths of Scripture is that God is a not silent. He is a God is reveals Himself, who is knowable, who is known. One of the great fears of paganism is uncertainty about who a god is, how he feels about us, and what he requires. But the God of scripture is not like the false gods of the nations. He is the God who is not silent. He reveals himself in his works and in his word. Yet sometimes He seems silent. The words of Psalm 22 reflected this feeling.
My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?Psalm 22:1-2
Why are you so far from saving me,
so far from my cries of anguish?
My God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer,
by night, but I find no rest.
Even the Lord Jesus, in his human nature felt the weight of these words as he bore the wrath and curse of God for our sin. Has God every appeared silent in your life? Has you every felt he was far from saving you? So far from your cries of anguish? Like one who will not answer your cries, day and night? How does this square with the Scripture promises that He will never leave us or forsake us, that he is always at work, his ear attentive to the cry of his children?
Scripture invites us into the lives of many to whom God seemed silent. Mary and Martha at the graveside of Lazarus and the children of Israel in Egypt are examples. God seemed silent. Their adversity was not a consequence of sin or unfaithfulness. Yet, suffering increased and deliverance was withheld. Is God silent? Is he far from saving? Is he unconcerned? Is he not all that we believed him to be? What are we to think when God seems silent?
God’s people were oppressed in Egypt under the hand of a xenophobic, genocidal Pharaoh. God’s promises were unfolding as he blessed the people with children yet as their blessing increased, so did persecution and adversity. But God did not deliver them. Why does God allow times of adversity and suffering in the lives of his people? We all ask this and many experience this personally. Join us this week as we examine Exodus 1:8-14 and wrestle with the question of why God sometimes appears silent.
We meet from 5:00 – 6:30 pm in The Commons at St. Andrews Anglican Church at 8300 Kanis Rd in Little Rock for worship. Get directions here or contact us for more info. You can also join us on Facebook Live @RiverCityARP or on YouTube.