You Have the Right to Remain Silent
Lord, my heart is not haughty, Nor my eyes lofty. Neither do I concern myself with great matters, Nor with things too profound for me. Surely I have calmed and quieted my soul, Like a weaned child with his mother; Like a weaned child is my soul within me.
In 1758, Princeton College called Jonathan Edwards to be their next President. The New England theologian went ahead of his wife, Sarah, to begin the new job while she stayed back to wrap things up on the home front. In the in-between, Edwards dies tragically through a small pox inoculation. Sarah receives the news by courier explaining the tragic facts. They had been married for more than thirty years, and were deeply in love. Left alone with a brood of children to raise and suffering from rheumatism to such a degree that she could hardly write, she scribbles out this note to her grown daughter Esther: "What shall I say? A holy and good God has covered us with a black cloud. O that we may kiss the rod, and lay our hands on our mouth! The Lord has done it. He has made me adore his goodness, that we had him [Jonathan] so long. But my God lives; and he has my heart ... We are all given to God; and there I am, and love to be."
Sarah Edwards's silence, and submission before God in the face of such suffering is a model response we would all do well to emulate. She accepts her trial as from the hand of God, and reflexively places her own hand over her mouth to prevent the questioning of God's ways, and wisdom (Job 40:4). She finds resolution for her pain not in understanding, but in faith (Job 13:15; 23:10). She trusts herself, and family to the unending love, and unerring sovereignty of God. She believed that God was too kind to be cruel, too wise to make a mistake, and too deep to explain himself.
King David in Psalm 131 models this pattern of saying nothing against God, and trusting God implicitly amidst life's crosses and losses. In Psalm 131:1 the psalmist admits that he found an inner calm and contentment. He had quieted his soul like a weaned child, by trusting God with those things that were hard to understand. He had stopped trying to make sense of those things that seemed unreasonable, and inexplicable! He says: "Neither do I concern myself with great matters, nor with things to profound for me." The word "profound" is the same word that appears in Genesis 18:14 where it is translated "hard or difficult". It speaks of things that are God-sized, things beyond our comprehension (Deut. 17:8). We are speaking about things too big, and too baffling for us to get our heads around (Psa. 139:6; Job 42:3). While God has made Himself known, and can be known, there are things about Him and His dealings with us that are past finding out (Deut. 29:29; Isa. 55:8-9; Rom. 11:33). It is then that we need to follow the examples of King David and Sarah Edwards! We ought not to busy ourselves with problems we cannot solve, or questions we cannot answer. We need to give God credit for understanding a few more things than we do. As Spurgeon notes: "Where we cannot trace the hand of God we need to trust the heart of God (Psa. 46:10; Isa. 50:10).
Heavenly Father, In silence I am learning to trust You. The days that are characterized by dark clouds are opportunities to experience an inner calm based on the fact that You are kind and not cruel. I know that I do not understand all things or fully comprehend the ways You work. But I trust You and will kiss the rod and lay my hands on my mouth. Amen.
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