Kenneth L. Samuel
"The Lord went on: 'Do you still want to argue with the Almighty? Or will you yield? Do you—God's critic—have the answers?' Then Job replied to God: 'I am nothing, how could I ever find the answers? I lay my hand upon my mouth in silence. I have said too much already.' Then the Lord spoke to Job again from the whirlwind . . ." - Job 40:1-6 (Living Bible)
We all know that arguments can go too far at times, especially when both parties are passionately invested in their perspectives. But the intensity of an argument is not only fueled by how much we care about a particular perspective; it is also fueled by how much we care about the person with whom we are arguing. We seldom waste time arguing with persons we care nothing about.
Like the argument between Job and God, most of our arguments are actual expressions of how much we really care about the persons with whom we contend. The more we care, the more we have to say. The deeper our investment, the more we feel compelled to convince.
But at a certain point in the dispute, those who care must know when the argument has reached an impasse. Even in the heat of a disagreement, someone who cares must know when even another word would be utterly futile and counter-productive.
That's when impassioned debate has to give way to engaged silence. That's when the door to understanding beyond words is really opened. That's when the deep ties that bind hearts and spirits are finally allowed to speak.
Is there anything more precious than a soft "Good morning" after an evening blow out? Is there anything more special than a warm embrace after a major dispute?
Or what about a God who still speaks to us in love after a whirlwind of disaster, dismay and doubt?
God, we know that there is no "I love you" like the "I love you" after a bitter exchange. Help us to know when to end the argument and continue the communication. Amen.
Kenneth L. Samuel is Pastor of Victory for the World Church, Stone Mountain, Georgia.