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Silent nights

400 years.

That’s how long God was silent between the Old and New Testaments.

The last thing anyone heard from God was through the prophet Malachi.

Then 400 years.

Our country isn’t even 400 years.

400 years ago, was 1614.

I can’t imagine God being silent for that long.

And what broke the silence?

An angel appearing to a young girl.

An angel appearing to a confused, and hurting young man.

Angels appearing to forgotten shepherds in a field.

A baby’s cry in a feeding trough.

Not exactly the ways one would expect to hear from God after 400 years.

Despite all the angelic hosts and declarations, the reality is that when God spoke after 400 years, he basically whispered.

Sure, it may have been bold or dramatic at times, but it was really only a handful of people who actually heard the declarations.

Many were still waiting to hear.

Waiting for words of hope.

Deliverance.

Yet they didn’t hear. Not for another 30 years.

In fact, if anything, the world seemed worse.

They were living under Roman rule.

Taxed beyond belief.

Struggling to survive.

And even if they heard murmurs that the Messiah had come in the first few years of Jesus’ life, an angry king quickly squelched that hope when he ordered the death of all children under the age of 2.

To them, the heavens were still painfully silent.

There was no hope for the future.

But just because they didn’t hear it, doesn’t mean the silence was still dominant.

In fact, the silence had been broken.

And the silence wasn’t the only thing that was broken.

Because in the life of Jesus, the stronghold of sin would be broken.

The barrier between us and God would be broken.

Hopelessness would be broken.

The mystery of God would be revealed in the life and words of Jesus.

And while all of this sounds like a great story, we still need God to break through the nothing, don’t we?

We still need God to speak to our silence.

We still need a Savior.

Because there are times when God is silent now in my life and yours.

Not for 400 years. But for 400 seconds. 400 minutes. 400 days. 400 months.

When we wonder about the “next” in our lives.

When we anxiously pray for someone we love.

When we’re battling a disease, or watching someone we care about wither away from one.

When we wonder how the bills will get paid, if we’ll get the job, what life holds after graduation.

Silence.

And then he whispers. Emmanuel. “God is with you.”

You are not alone.

You never were.

And the realization that the silence is part of your story, just as much as the declarations.

And that the silence doesn’t mean God has forgotten about you, it means He is quietly there beside you. God is with us.

Tim Walker

— by Tim Walker

Walker is a husband/father/writer who is navigating faith, marriage, parenthood and mid-life. Follow his blog at www.timswords.com.

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