Faith. Nothing could be easier than responding in faith when things are easy. But when faced with impossibilities, our natural response is seldom belief and faith.
I am one who will admit that faith is not a natural muscle. I don’t always feel like being faith-filled. And some of you reading this feel the same way. We know that God is faithful. But sometimes the impossibilities we face make us doubt whether He loves us enough to fulfill His promises. But many times faith is more than human nature, more than feelings and more than our capacity. Faith is about knowing God and His capacity and responding in the right way.
But what is a response of faith? Is it the lifting of hands? Hyping people up with a nice exhortation and loud music? Is it negating the worst case scenario and single-mindedly focusing on the best? Nothing wrong with these responses. In fact, many times they can be faith-filled responses. But what I’ve come to realise is that one of the most powerful manifestations of faith is to remain silent.
One story in the Bible that manifests we find this is the Christmas narrative of Luke chapter one. That’s the story of how Zechariah lost his voice. Jumping to verse thirteen to seventeen, we see Zechariah speaking to an angel of the Lord:
“But the angel said to him: “Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to call him John. He will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth, for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He is never to take wine or other fermented drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even before he is born. He will bring back many of the people of Israel to the Lord their God. And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the parents to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous—to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”
What is Zechariah’s response to this great promise that is impossible?
“Zechariah asked the angel, “How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well along in years.”
So many times, we find ourselves responding like Zechariah did. In unbelief. I know I’ve responded in unbelief many times. What God does next is this- he takes Zechariah’s voice away. There seems disconnect on the surface. But if we look into our situations we will see the “Zechariah” in ourselves. As Zechariah had his voice removed, sometimes God silences us as well.
Last week, we flew to Cebu to attend a Christmas party for whole Visayas hub of our movement Victory. Unfortunately on that trip, I lost my voice. The times that it would be great to converse and tell stories was the time I had nothing to tell stories with. I had no choice but to listen.
But as the few days I had with faraway friends went on I came to appreciate the fact that I was voiceless. Because it allowed me to listen to those who wanted to be heard instead of blabbing all day about what I had to say. That seeming mishap was the best thing that happened to me last week.
We think that the best response to any circumstance is to speak, give our input, complain, revolt, state our side or voice our petitions. Many times the best thing to do is to remain silent and listen. Listen to who? You know who.
In the midst of your impossibilities, God wants to speak. But are we too busy voicing out our disbelief- or voicing out our belief even? If we are too consumed with our opinion, our knowledge, our experience, we will miss the new things God wants to do in and through you.
God wants to do something new in your life even as Christmas marks the end to another year. But are we silent enough to hear what He has to say? God wants to do amazing things in us and asks us to respond in faith. There is no stance of faith better than silence and attentiveness.
Yes there will be a time to speak, prophesy, declare and even sing praises. But before all that comes the silence- the moment we can stand in God’s presence to do nothing but hear from Him. He wants to speak assurances, plans, strategies, direction, purpose, encouragement to each and everyone of us. And by faith we stand silent. Don’t wait for God to take away your voice through trial, discipline or loving correction. Be still and know Him.