Friday, June 17, 2016

Why Is God So Quiet?

In these tumultuous days of crises after crises, with the noisy sounds of hate, fear, and bigotry so loud and constant, I feel the need to make noise against it, to speak out as loud as I can to protest it.  I cannot keep silent.  But I wonder this morning why God is so silent!  Has anyone heard  any noise from God lately?  O, I know someone will say that amid the earthquakes, winds, and fires ravaging the world, God moves like a still, small voice, but that is precisely what is troubling me.  Why doesn’t God speak up?  Why should injustice and evil make all the noise, and Love always be a still, small voice?  This question is bugging me this morning and my mind churns….

Photo by Nancy Reynolds
We are sensitive to noise.  It gets our attention.  A baby cries and immediately gets mother’s attention.  What motivates the mother: the crying (noise) or her deep love and care for her child? She speaks to her child with a still, small voice, perhaps hums a quiet lullaby, or simply holds her baby close.  The crying (noise) eventually fades away.  Does God have to respond to noise with  more noise?  Or does God react to the noise the way a loving mother reacts to her baby’s cry?  

Noise is momentary. All that made noise in ancient Israel is gone, even the great Temple of which they boasted, but the faith of the psalmists and the insights of the prophets have not vanished.  They live on.  All that made noise in first-century Palestine is gone, and the only thing that causes anyone to think about it these days is the person of Jesus of Nazareth, who made little noise in his time.  (I wonder if Jesus had come in our time if he would have made enough noise to be “breaking news” on the networks)? All that made noise in ancient Greece is gone, but the Iliad, the Odyssey, and the works of Plato have not gone.  All that made noise in ancient Rome has vanished, the great coliseum where once gladiators fought and Christians martyred is a crumpled pile of stones, the Caesars dead and gone, but the works of Ovid, Vergil and Horace remain.   It would appear that the really important and enduring things are often the quiet things.
Noise dominates or so it seems.  But I think of all the great personalities of the past (Augustine, St. Francis,  St. Teresa of Calcutta, Albert Schweitzer, Dietrich Bonhoeffer) who said they heard a still, small voice, and with little noise or clamor, obeyed that voice.  They made a quiet difference that lingers on.  Maybe I should make less noise?  Or does the still, small voice bid me make more noise?

“Dear Lord and Father of mankind, forgive our foolish ways….Breathe through the heats of our desire thy coolness and thy balm; let sense be dumb, let flesh retire; speak through the earthquake, wind and fire, O still, small voice of calm.”

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