Meditation: Waiting for God in silence

by Jennifer Brown

Hello, St. John’s family, this is Jennifer Brown. In this meditation, I would like to consider the concept of waiting for God in silence. One of the psalms we studied in the summer bible study series was Psalm 62. The first verse reads: 1 “For God alone my soul waits in silence; from him comes my salvation.” 

When I read that verse, 1 Kings 19: 9-14 comes to mind. The passage begins after Elijah has fled from Jezebel who has sworn to take his life. After a long journey through the wilderness, Elijah arrived at Horeb, the mountain of God, where the Lord found him. The Hebrew phrase in verse 12, which is sometimes translated as a gentle whisper, literally means “a sound of thin silence.”1 When the Lord passed by the mountain, He was preceded by a strong wind, an earthquake, and a fire. However, God was not in those forces of nature. He was in the thin silence that followed. Elijah waited for the tumult to die down before he went out to stand before the Lord, but I don’t think he was just trying to avoid being annihilated by a natural disaster.  Elijah was at his lowest point: forsaken by his people, pursued by enemies, and mourning the death of his friends. Yet, he knew enough about the character of God to know that He was not in the chaos. He was the steady presence that came to his servant in the silence. 

Being in God’s presence is enough to astonish one into silence, but I think it takes an immense amount of faith to wait for God in silence.  I have often been in the position of waiting for an answer from God. I admit, I have never successfully managed to wait without complaints, questions, or doubts. That absolute trust required to patiently wait for God in silence is a goal I am still striving toward. 

In Psalm 62, verse 5, the psalmist repeats the opening line, with a slight variation: 5 “For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from him.” The wording sounds slightly more desperate, as if he is commanding his soul to wait. When I wait a long time for God to answer, the silence can start to feel deafening. Sometimes, I can’t figure out whether to wait for God to answer the way I want; to discern that He has answered in an unexpected way; or to accept that His answer is no. Maybe David got tired of waiting too and wanted to reassure himself that his hope and salvation could be found in God no matter how long the wait. 

This brings me to my final cross reference, Lamentations 3:25-26: 25 “The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him. 26 It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.” This passage implies that waiting is not something to be borne grudgingly or merely tolerated. It is good for us to seek God in silence, and it is good for us to wait for His answer. And, because God is good, His answers, no matter how long in coming, must also be good. 

Let us pray. Dear Lord, you know that modern life often has us running away from silence. This time of quarantine has revealed how we tend to fill our lives with noise and activities to escape the silence. In the absence of our normal routines, we have come face to face with ourselves; some of us do not like what we have seen. I ask that you continue transforming us into your image with ever-increasing glory. 

Lord, I ask you to use this quiet time to transform our view of silence from something to be feared into that of a sacred space oriented toward you. Thank you for meeting us in the silence and for filling the emptiness with your love and presence. I ask you to grant us peace as we wait expectantly for your answer. Help us to persevere in seeking you and to find contentment in the waiting. Most of all, I thank you for being good and for being good to us. In Jesus’ name I pray this. Amen.

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