Stunned into Silence
Ezra 9:1 After these things had been done, the officials approached me and said, “The people of Israel, the priests, and the Levites have not separated themselves from the peoples of the lands with their abominations, from the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Jebusites, the Ammonites, the Moabites, the Egyptians, and the Amorites. 2 For they have taken some of their daughters as wives for themselves and for their sons. Thus the holy seed has mixed itself with the peoples of the lands, and in this faithlessness the officials and leaders have led the way.” 3 When I heard this, I tore my garment and my mantle, and pulled hair from my head and beard, and sat appalled. 4 Then all who trembled at the words of the God of Israel, because of the faithlessness of the returned exiles, gathered around me while I sat appalled until the evening sacrifice.
Ezra had tried to call the people back to faithfulness but they would not listen. When word of their infidelity reached him it was more than he could bear. He tore his clothes and pulled out some of his hair and then sat there in silence - appalled by what he had heard.
There are times when we simply don’t know how to respond. The news that reached Ezra’s ears was simply so devastating to him that he didn’t know what say so he sat for hours in stunned silence. Before he would know how to respond — how to pray before God, he had to just sit and think. Finally after that time he is able to come before God and to repent for his people.
There is a temptation to immediately respond when we hear that bad news, or receive that really negative e-mail. Yet there is something about taking the time to sit in stunned silence that can be beneficial. Or then there's Ezra’s immediate reaction of tearing his clothes and pulling out hair — which was a sign of grief. In our era we might take some time to cry, allowing the grief to spill out of us and for the tears to be cathartic. It’s really okay to respond in this way.
But after we’ve taken time to regroup, then it’s time for action. After Ezra’s period of stunned silence, he took action. The time will come for action, but only when we have a clear direction from God. Sometimes sitting in the stunned silence is the best thing that we can do.
Lord, may I learn to be still and listen to you and your leading. Amen.
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