An urgent message arrived for Yahshua from two sisters who lived in the village of Bethany. It alerted Him that their brother and His friend, Lazarus, was desperately ill. Yahshua’s response to the message surprised everyone. The apostle John remembers: “Now [Yahshua] loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So when he heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed where he was two more days…” [John 11:5-6, NIV] The sisters were either appealing for help, or letting Yahshua know that He needed to come quickly! Let’s check that response again: Yahshua loved the family in Bethany, ‘So when he heard…’ He stayed where He was for a further two days? Can you understand that? This was a direct consequence of hearing that His friend was ill! Does it make any sense?
It was an outward silence to an anguished prayer; and I wonder how many times I have known this response, when my prayers only seemed to echo back into my own heart, and my despair vibrated there. Yet, for the sisters in Bethany, “the absence of an audible response was itself the answer to the cry…” [George Matheson] It is hard for us to comprehend that Yahweh’s silences could be another form of His voice, an answer in themselves. Or that when He seems far away He is actually closer than the breath that we breathe. Yet these are facts, they describe Him perfectly, He is our faithful, gracious, compassionate Father. His silences are never due to coldness or indifference, they are full of stillness and hope, pregnant with life and abundance.
“There are some prayers,” writes George Matheson, “that are followed by a Divine silence because we are not yet ripe for all we have asked; there are others which are so followed because we are ripe for more.” In the case of Mary and Martha they asked for healing, for their brother’s life to be spared. In fact, they received an astonishing miracle, a revelation that Yahshua, Himself, is the resurrection and the life, and a powerful understanding of eternity that has brought hope and comfort to multitudes of believers for centuries. [John 11: 25&44]. Wait for Him in the silence!
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