Silence is Golden!
“I have spoken what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.” – Job 42:3
I was taught never to say, “Shut up!” It was considered rude. So I still don’t.
But I am tempted from time to time. I have an allergy to certain pious phrases that I know are meant to give comfort but do not, at least to me.
The first of these is: “It was God’s will!” I am a big believer in the will of God, and have often found meaning in some very difficult, even tragic, experiences, usually in hindsight. But this particular axiom should be used sparingly, if at all.
God doesn’t go around giving children cancer or throwing people off of bicycles! What kind of God would this be?
Another saying I have to grit my teeth over is the one about God opening and closing doors. Sometimes it’s “God never closes a door without opening another door” or “God never closes a door without opening a window!”
Again I know this is meant to be comforting, and perhaps means nothing more than when you lose an opportunity, there will be another ahead. I’m good with that. But why bring God into it? It’s not biblical, and it’s not even true. Sometimes all the doors are closed. Sometimes they are slammed! Sometimes they hit you in the face.
So let us take a page out of Job’s book and not say things about God that we don’t understand. It’s OK not to understand the ways of God. God’s ways are not our ways. Sometimes we just need to not speak, because a modest silence is often the proper response to the mystery of God.
Let all mortal flesh keep silence, Holy One, before your mystery and majesty.
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Richard L. Floyd is Pastor Emeritus of First Church of Christ (UCC) in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. A writer and author, his most recent publications are Romans, Parts 1 and 2 (with Michael S. Bennett), new titles in the “Listen Up!” Bible Study Series. He blogs at richardlfloyd.com.