Read stories from listeners of TWR Women of Hope.
Feb23FriFebruary 23, 2018 by the TWR Canada Women's Ministry Team
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What is the cost of silence? Does it have a price? That question is worth wrestling with from time to time, partly as an academic exercise to objectively remind ourselves what’s at stake to both keep silent and speak up, partly as a reminder of what kind of people we’re called to be as Christ followers.
We’re admonished many times to stay silent in the Scriptures:
“For God alone my soul waits in silence …” (Psalm 62:1, ESV).
“Let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger …” (James 1:19, ESV).
“… a man of understanding remains silent” (Proverbs 11:12, ESV).
Perhaps one of the most quoted admonitions for silence is found in Psalm 46:10 (ESV), “Be still, and know that I am God.” It’s a command the Lord gives us, but it’s one that is often a challenge for many of us. Yet as we spend time focusing on the Lord, reading his Word and praying each day, we are obeying him, and the benefits are many.
The cost of silence can have many positives.
The reminder to shut out the noise and chaos of the world and focus on the Lord has many benefits. We must set aside our own agendas and timetables, our pride and sense of control and instead steep ourselves in God’s presence. Silence asks us to trust, grow our faith and listen for that still small voice. It forces us to become un-busy, to pause and reflect, to contemplate our priorities and goals. Staying silent forces us to listen first and then respond.
There are also physical benefits to silence. Contemporary research has found that a minimum of two hours of silence can result in new brain cells in the areas linked to learning and recall and that silence can relieve tension in just two minutes (source here).
But can remaining silent have negative consequences?
There is also a cost to remaining silent when we should speak. Have you remained silent when you should have spoken out or spoken up? Perhaps fear of what others will think or of ridicule or even shame has kept you quiet. We keep secrets for all kinds of reasons, but Matthew 6 and Mark 4 both promise that God sees all our secrets and knows our thoughts. We are called to testify to that which we have been a witness to or have come to know the truth about. Again, we can go to Scripture for guidance.
“I was mute and silent; I held my peace to no avail, and my distress grew worse” (Psalm 39:2, ESV).
“Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them” (Ephesians 5:11, ESV).
“But when anything is exposed by the light it becomes visible, for anything that becomes visible is light …” (Ephesians 5:13-14, ESV).
There are indeed times we are to speak up. Bringing our motivations and goals in prayer to Christ can help us evaluate whether the silence we keep is golden or toxic.
So, yes, there is a cost to silence, with both positive and negative outcomes. On one hand, the Lord admonishes us to be silent and listen for his voice. The cost comes often because most of us find this difficult; we’d rather be busy doing than sitting. Yet there is a great advantage both spiritually and physically to taking time to be still and quiet.
On the other hand, there are times we are not to remain silent but to speak up. A key verse in TWR Women of Hope is Proverbs 31:8-9. Here we are told to “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy (NIV).”
We are to be a voice for those whose voice has been silenced, to use our voice to tell others about the plight of women and to use our voice in lifting them in prayer to the one who brings hope and healing.
Each day as you take time to be still and spend time reading the Word and listening for the Lord’s voice, you are keeping his command to wait in silence before him. And each day as you pray through the prayer requests with thousands of other intercessors, you are also obeying him by using your voice to break the silence on behalf of those who have no voice.
Let us pray that the Lord would be glorified in and through us as we balance the cost of silence.