Jesus did not answer a word. (Matthew 15: 23)
He will quiet you with his love. (Zephaniah 3: 17)
Are you reading these verses as a child of God who is experiencing a crushing sorrow, a bitter disappointment, or a heartbreaking blow from a totally unexpected place? Are you longing to hear your Master’s voice calling you, saying, “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid” (Matt. 14: 27)? Yet only silence, the unknown, and misery confront you—“ Jesus did not answer a word.”
God’s tender heart must often ache listening to our sad, complaining cries. Our weak, impatient hearts cry out because we fail to see through our tear-blinded, shortsighted eyes that it is for our own sakes that He does not answer at all or that He answers in a way we believe is less than the best. In fact, the silences of Jesus are as eloquent as His words and may be a sign not of His disapproval but of His approval and His way of providing a deeper blessing for you.
“Why are you downcast, O my soul? . . . I will yet praise him” (Ps. 43: 5). Yes, praise Him even for His silence. Let me relate a beautiful old story of how one Christian dreamed she saw three other women in prayer.
When they knelt the Master drew near to them. As He approached the first of the three, He bent over her with tenderness and grace. He smiled with radiant love and spoke to her in tones of pure, sweet music. Upon leaving her, He came to the next but only placed His hand upon her bowed head and gave her one look of loving approval. He passed the third woman almost abruptly, without stopping for a word or a glance.
The woman having the dream said to herself, “How greatly He must love the first woman. The second gained His approval but did not experience the special demonstrations of love He gave the first. But the third woman must have grieved Him deeply, for He gave her no word at all, nor even a passing look.”
She wondered what the third woman must have done to have been treated so differently. As she tried to account for the actions of her Lord, He Himself came and stood beside her. He said to her, “O woman! How wrongly you have interpreted Me! The first kneeling woman needs the full measure of My tenderness and care to keep her feet on My narrow way. She needs My love, thoughts, and help every moment of the day, for without them she would stumble into failure.
“The second woman has stronger faith and deeper love than the first, and I can count on her to trust Me no matter how things may go or whatever people may do. Yet the third woman, whom I seemed not to notice, and even to neglect, has faith and love of the purest quality. I am training her through quick and drastic ways for the highest and holiest service.
“She knows Me so intimately, and trusts Me so completely, that she no longer depends on My voice, loving glances, or other outward signs to know of My approval. She is not dismayed or discouraged by any circumstances I arrange for her to encounter. She trusts Me when common sense, reason, and even every subtle instinct of the natural heart would rebel, knowing that I am preparing her for eternity, and realizing that the understanding of what I do will come later.
“My love is silent because I love beyond the power of words to express it and beyond the understanding of the human heart. Also, it is silent for your sakes— that you may learn to love and trust Me with pure, Spirit-taught, spontaneous responses. I desire for your response to My love to be without the prompting of anything external.”
He “will do wonders never before done” (Ex. 34: 10) if you will learn the mystery of His silence and praise Him every time He withdraws His gifts from you. Through this you will better know and love the Giver.
Cowman, L. B. E.; Reimann, Jim (2008-09-09). Streams in the Desert: 366 Daily Devotional Readings (pp. 67-68). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.