“Hush! Is that God speaking?”
Then why can’t we hear what He is saying? Maybe it is because we talk too much or maybe it is because God has nothing to say to us today. Sometimes we sit and listen for a word from God and all we hear is silence. We cry out to God for answers to questions like: “Why the killing of innocent babies during drive-by shootings?” “Why so much racial and economic injustice?” “Why does evil seem to go unpunished?” “Why are religious people becoming so intolerant of one another?”
Habakkuk (1:2-3) reads, “O Lord, how long shall I cry and you will not hear? Even cry out to you, about violence! And you will not save. Why do you show me iniquity and cause me to see trouble?”
Saddened by the violence and corruption he saw around him, Habakkuk poured out his heart to God. This quote from Habakkuk is taken from the Old Testament, a book used by many of the world’s largest religious groups, Christian, Jewish, Islamic, and their many off-shoots. In it, Habakkuk too knew God was a God of justice but he couldn’t understand God’s silence and why the apparent indifference about THE rebellion of Judah (His people). When God did finally answer, it was an answer Habakkuk didn’t like.
God told Habakkuk He planned to use Babylon, their enemy, to correct Judah’s rebellion. He intended to use a nation more unjust to correct the injustice among His own people. This sounds much like the struggle we are facing here in America. It seems hypocritical that America’s religious tolerance is being tested by God by His using Islamic request for understanding to challenge the beliefs we religious Americans supposedly hold so dear on religious freedom.
We all struggle at times with the ways of God, just as we struggle to hear God. Often what blocks our understanding of God’s speaking and our hearing is too much of our own chatter. In our zeal for righteousness we say things that upset others and ourselves. Often-time when we speak it seems nothing we say teaches us or others anything. However, it seems when we stop and listen to God and to others we gain deeper understanding of ourselves and others, but this takes wisdom, patience and tolerance.
Like Habakkuk we too wrestle with God’s silence, while deep down inside we know we haven’t earned the right to speak, and yet we refuse to be still and listen. We get mad because it seems God is too silent and bent on making us wait to hear from Him, making us wait for answers to these hard questions raised above. However much we dislike it we must “hush,” wait and pray for clear discernment of the only real question that matters: “Is that God speaking?”
It appears to many that before God can save this world He must first save its leaders. Good leaders all know to hush and listen to Him and to one another and that we must talk things through. Real leaders know what we do and think don’t always conform to God’s will or His wishes for us. We must all remember God is watching everything we do and that He sees all injustice and that He will ultimately address it.
While injustice and intolerance are still rampant, we must not let these concerns cause us to doubt God’s ability to speak and do something about them and we must not rebel against Him either. Like Habakkuk, we too must learn to be silent, listen and consider the messages He sends.
God’s messages have long-range plans and purposes. He is doing what is right, even when we don’t understand why He works the way He does. I too have had to ask myself from time to time to stop and just hush as I wondered to myself, “Is that you (God) speaking?”
The Rev. Dr. R. Joaquin Willis is pastor of the Church of the Open Door, 6001 NW Eighth Ave., Miami. To contact the church, call 305-759-0373 or e-mail the pastor, firstname.lastname@example.org.