Spotlight 09: God is found in the silence

To experience joy in Christ you sometimes have to make a point of listening carefully. Strength can be derived from the joy we find when we seek God’s proximity in the silence. This is something that District Apostle Rainer Storck from North Rhine-Westphalia in Germany points out in his article on our 2015 motto.

This year’s motto is “Joy in Christ”. The divine service the Chief Apostle conducted on New Year’s Day was based on Habakkuk 3: 18: “Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation.” I recently occupied myself with the prophet Habakkuk. There is not much that we know about this man of God. Only three chapters have been handed down and are found in the Bible. Habakkuk likely lived some 700 years before Christ, in a time in which the people of Israel had turned away from God entirely. They disregarded His laws and the divine order. The prophet was commissioned to bring the people around. They were to repent and come back to God.

Discovering God’s will and ways

It was obviously an almost impossible task, because the book of Habakkuk begins with the statement, “O Lord, how long shall I cry, and You will not hear? Even cry out to You, ‘Violence!’ And You will not save” (Habakkuk 1: 2). But somehow Habakkuk managed to overcome the resignation that threatened to set in and derived strength for his tasks out of his joy in the Lord.

How did he manage to do that? One indication might perhaps be what we can read in Habakkuk 2: 20. It says, “But the Lord is in His holy temple. Let all the earth keep silence before Him.” In order to fulfil his tasks, the prophet went into the temple, to the sanctuary of God, controlled his own desires, and connected himself with God and tried to discover what the will of God was by way of prayer.

The Lord will fight for you

There are numerous events in salvation history that testify to how God helped His servants in all quietness. One was during the Israelites’ exodus when they stood at the Red Sea. Shortly before they had experienced the help and blessing of God and had come through the ten plagues that had been sent over Egypt. Triumphantly they walked to freedom. God went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud and in a pillar of fire. But then the Israelites came up against this seemingly hopeless situation: the chariots of Pharaoh were bearing down on them and before them was the sea. They were sure they were lost. There was a lot of wailing and anger and resignation directed at Moses. He, however, remained calm. He focused on God and waited for His help. Moses told the people, “The Lord will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace” (Exodus 14: 14). God intervened and parted the waters so that His people could be saved.

The circumstances in our congregations are sometimes not easy. This has often been a point of discussion and I am not going to go into this here. Please let us in future seek the nearness of God in the silence even more: in prayer and in worship, and then wait for and listen to the impulses from the Holy Spirit.

I am sure: God will help us. Many of our troubles and cares, and much of the helplessness and powerlessness we often feel, will then turn to joy, into this joy in Christ. Then we not only have the strength to fulfil our tasks, but we will also have the strength to shape our everyday lives with our loved ones in the proper way.

Photo: Oliver Rütten

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Rainer Storck