The angry noise of our world has become deafening. Would you agree that now is the time for Christians to help lower the volume?
We all have painful memories and scars, the result of society’s deterioration of civility, harmony, and even friendliness. As the writer Henry David Thoreau noted more than 150 years ago, “Our once boundless optimism was slowly replaced with ‘lives of quiet desperation.’” Many, today, feel that despair has only amplified.
So how might you and I effectively share the Good News with a world so filled with discord? Some people think that God has gone quiet. Perhaps He has. If so, what might change if you and I started a quiet, personal revolution within ourselves, our churches, and our communities? Could it be that He hasn’t gone quiet, but that we’re not getting quiet enough to hear Him?
Deafening Noise, Desperate Souls
Peter Catapano, a senior staff writer with The New York Times, wrote about his daughter’s emotional baggage of going off to college with “a vivid awareness of mass shootings, natural disasters, the climate crisis, poverty, racial and political hatred and violence, and at last, the unimaginable — a silent, invisible pandemic that has so far killed nearly six million people — had all become undeniably woven into the fabric of life.”
Catapano admitted that he could not bring himself to look his daughter in the eye and tell her everything was going to be okay. It wasn’t, not really, and she knew it. “People are frustrated and angry,” he wrote. “And those feelings are fueling increases in violent crime, customer abuse of workers, student misbehavior in school and vehicle crashes.”
Another writer lamented over the angst of our culture, noting, “All that’s left is to yell at one another.” But I’d bet my last dollar that our powerful and majestic God doesn’t share that opinion. He has a better way: building hope and love and peace, through you and me. It’s time that we, as committed followers of Jesus Christ, quietly reach out to our friends, neighbors, coworkers, and communities in love. But first, we need to get quiet. How?
Get Quiet to Hear God
I can suggest these six ways to get quiet to hear Him.
Quiet Confessing – Our first step is to agree with God that we have added to the noise by sinning with our words, thoughts, and actions. Let us quietly confess, with personal humility. Who do you need to forgive? Who do you need to ask to forgive you?
Quiet Repenting – Once we admit our sin, we must change how we live. God empowers us to alter the direction, speed, and motivation of our life as we purposefully change our words, thoughts, and actions. As we repent and take action, God can use us to quietly impact others for Him.
Quiet Praying – Let us frequently retreat to a quiet place without people, phones, and other distractions. We need this break from the noise that continually bombards us. Personally, I find quiet in my prayer closet. I meet with God early to pray, even before my dog gets up. And I meditate on His word. I will admit to you that I have a well-developed ego and pride, so my kneeling is a physical act that helps me to get humble before God. Only after this quiet time do I turn on, log in, and catch up with the world.
Quiet Listening – When people talk, our immediate response should be to actively listen. Not to debate or argue, but to open our minds to seeing life from another’s point of view. God is looking for gracious, patient listeners to be His ears, hands, and feet. We can’t listen if we’re too busy trying to be heard. Shhhhhhh!
Quiet Waiting – We must get still to invite God to speak. This is hard for many of us, as we have so much to do. But we’ll find that when we do wait on God, He often will direct us to where we need to go, and what we need to do. As a technology geek, it’s hard to admit that I recently lost five chapters of a book I’m writing. When the text “disappeared” from my computer, without backup, my natural response was to blow a gasket and look for someone else to blame. God provided me with very godly advice through my wife, which involved waiting and rewriting the chapters.
Quiet Serving – Let us look for ways to meet the practical needs of others without fanfare or “likes” on social media. We needn’t go on a mission trip to serve. The needs are great in our own neighborhoods. I recently volunteered with a local food bank, helping to develop an advertising video to help raise needed funds via email and social media. And don’t forget the power of numbers. We amplify our ability to quietly serve when we invite others to join us. Who might you ask to quietly, humbly, generously serve with you this week?
Quiet Examples in Scripture
The Bible tells us many stories of people who got quiet to hear God speak.
During a time of severe drought, for example, as he sat hungry beside a dried-up brook, the prophet Elijah got quiet before God. God directed Elijah to “go at once” to a town called Zarephath, where a widow would supply Elijah with food. Upon asking the woman for water and bread, Elijah learned that she and her son were in desperate need themselves. Possessing only a handful of flour and a tiny bit of olive, the widow was about to make their last meal “that we may eat it — and die.”
God was about to do some compounding. Elijah responded, “Don’t be afraid. Go home and do as you have said. But first make a small loaf of bread for me from what you have and bring it to me, and then make something for yourself and your son. For this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘The jar of flour will not be used up and the jug of oil will not run dry until the day the Lord sends rain on the land.’” In getting quiet before God, Elijah was empowered to meet the nourishment needs of the widow, her son, and himself until the end of the drought. And let us not forget that God answered Elijah’s prayer to breathe life into the widow’s son when the boy got sick and died a short time later. Many believed in God when this happened!
In the book of Luke, we read that “Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit” after being tested by Satan in the wilderness for 40 days. How did Jesus defeat Satan, despite his terrific hunger and thirst? He got quiet to remember who He was — and His mission.
The Bible also gives us the example of Tabitha, a Christ-follower who was part of the inner circle of the early church. Here was a woman who did more than just think or talk about doing good. She took action by serving the poor in her town of Lydda. When Tabitha died, her friends called for the disciple Peter, who was visiting a neighboring town. When Peter arrived, the weeping widows for whom Tabitha had made garments were eager to show Peter the beautiful clothing. Peter got quiet before God to pray that Tabitha be restored to life. She was, which gifted her even more time to continue her generous, quiet serving. Peter inspires us to remember the power of getting quiet before our powerful God. Tabitha inspires us to see the quiet impact we can have on others as we serve.
I’m tempted to suggest that you pick the “quiet” step above that you find the easiest, and start there. But I believe that God requires us to start with the basics: confessing and repenting. It is only in our getting humble before Him that we are able to reset our hearts and motivations. It’s the daily example Jesus demonstrated for us to follow.
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