Sabbath Tuesday: Silence and Remembrance

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The most common question I’ve been asked as a mentor to high school students is this: why isn’t God speaking into my current situation?

It seems this is a universal question for Christians. At one point, we’ve all asked this; my struggle with the question is an ongoing one.

And this question could be answered multiple ways: perhaps we’re not listening closely enough, perhaps He’s given us an answer we don’t like. But answers are not the point of this post. Often, for those experiencing the silence of God, simple answers will not suffice in the midst of anguish.

This time in a spiritual desert is not specific to the modern mind—church fathers mention a time of darkness in their spiritual journeys—even David cries out to the Lord: “How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me?” (Psalm 13).

Part of keeping Sabbath is remembrance: in the very act, we remember God creating this pattern of work and rest in the beginning; we remember God calling his people to rest to reflect this practice; we remember Christ disrupting the ingrained assumptions of Sabbath; we remember celebrating Sabbath, how weekly and daily we are called to rest in grace and not in our own strength. It is this practice of remembering that allows David—without having any answers to his prior questions, mind you—to finish his psalm:

“But I trust in your unfailing love;

my heart rejoices in your salvation.

I will sing the Lord’s praise,

for he has been good to me.”

That verb in the last line, “has been,” implies an ongoing relationship, based on past experiences but extending to the present. David uses this to remember God’s faithfulness in the past and imply that this is true in the present–though he may not see it, and though he may struggle with doubt.

Songwriter Andrew Peterson wrestles with this same question in his song “The Silence of God.” He asks “What about the time when even followers get lost?” Peterson, in his narrative style, remembers a time when loneliness and silence was Christ’s experience:

There’s a statue of Jesus on a monastery knoll

In the hills of Kentucky, all quiet and cold

And He’s kneeling in the garden, as silent as a Stone

All His friends are sleeping and He’s weeping all alone

 

And the man of all sorrows, he never forgot

What sorrow is carried by the hearts that he bought

So when the questions dissolve into the silence of God

The aching may remain but the breaking does not

The aching may remain but the breaking does not

In the holy, lonesome echo of the silence of God


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