It was another afternoon of weariness, sleepiness, and the struggle to stay awake and study. My college days were a constant struggle for survival as I worked a job most nights till four in the morning. A few hours in the afternoon was all I had to study and to sleep. That was a difficult choice to make when tests were coming up and assignments and papers were due, but sleep was important as well.
One particular afternoon the door to my room opened without a knock. My friend walked in and sat down silently for a few minutes. Although I kept reading I was waiting to hear him speak up and say something. Not a word was spoken as he sat there in silence. After several minutes he got up quietly and left. I began to wonder why he came and why he had said nothing at all. That’s when I realized that my weariness and sleepiness was gone. Most importantly, there was a sense of self-pity that was increasing that day as I struggled to stay awake and study, after which I would be returning to work for another night of physical labor. Suddenly I realized that the self-pity had lifted and I felt refreshed. All of that just because a friend walked into my room and sat silently for a few short minutes?
In the Bible, Job was a man who experienced horrific tragedies in his life. He lost all his children, wealth, and his health. His wife was the only one left, but even she turned against him. Three of his friends came and sat with him silently for seven days. Now that’s much more than the few minutes my friend sat with me. But I am sure the level of struggle was so much more intense for Job. Certainly the presence of his friends was comforting for him (Job 2:13 ESV
). But finally his friends broke the silence and each one began to speak in turn. But their speaking turned out to be disastrous for a man in such a circumstance (Job 16:2-3 ESV
It was only several years later that I learned about silence and solitude from Richard Foster’s book, Celebration of Discipline.
That’s when I realized the value of silence and how it benefited me when my friend sat for a few minutes in my room. Silence and solitude can be one of the most valuable steps to take in our lives.
So go ahead and cut out the distractions and spend some time alone with God in silence. That’s when he will speak to you and bring you the comfort that you desperately need. His presence will do all of that for you.
Have you learned and adopted the discipline of silence an solitude? How has it helped you?