We all have messes, pains, bruises, and losses. We all struggle. We all face pain and the ugly, hellish parts of this life and world. Our experiences may be different, but we have a common denominator: we’re all humans living life, the messy parts, the beautiful parts, all of it.
At one point or another, our lives all feel a little crumbly, as all the threads seem to unravel and pain, whether self-inflicted, consequential, or random, runs rampant in our lives.
Maybe this year has been a year of mess for you. A year of agony. A year of emptiness. A year of complete and utter brokenness. A year of survival, of putting one foot in front of the other, of breathing, even when it’s one breath at a time.
If we’re honest, most of us have been there at one point or another.
Faith during difficult times is complex. I lived a few years of compounded loss— excruciating, defining, pivotal losses. I’ll never be the same person that I was before, and I shouldn’t.
My faith was not ‘shaken’. I’d use different words for that. I still believed in God, and I knew that I am His, and He is mine, but when the hard became deafening, all I heard was silence.
God, where are you?
God, don’t you hear?
God, I have served you.
God, remember me?
God, why could you not answer me?
God, why him? Why me?
God, this is not fair.
And instead of an answer, I heard the sound of my heart shattering again and again and again. And suddenly it was all I could hear. Brokenness, messiness, lies, shame, guilt, fear all screaming more loudly as I cried out, calling out for hope and peace and the reminder that there is more.
So, I stopped talking.
With Christmas quickly approaching, my thoughts are turned toward it, not toward the day, not necessarily toward the celebration of Jesus’s birth but the leading up… Toward the people, the nation of Israel, who had been crying out, hoping, praying for an answer, praying for a way, praying for a Savior, anyone, anything that could rescue them from oppression and pain.
And for too long, all they heard was silence. (400 years, to be exact, between the Old and New Testaments of the Bible.)
I see Christmas differently now.
I see weary people, hoping and praying for answers, and I see silence.
But God had never stopped listening.
He had never stopped working.
Answers came, not in the way they expected, but in a baby born to a young boy and girl.
God was still there. He never left.
The silence has been breaking in my own life.
Just like Israel, my answers haven’t come in the way I expected. They’ve come gently, not roaring like the sound of my pain. They came and were hard to hear, but peace settled and hope calmed my shattered heart.
It’s come simply and all at once, with an awareness, a gentle assurance in my heart that when all I heard was silence, He was still there.
When all you hear is silence, listen closely.
You might just find out that He never left.
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