Have you ever sat in silence? It’s awkward. My ears long for noise. I want distraction and noise. Sitting in silence is hard to do without falling asleep when you’re tired. If I’m being honest, sitting in utter silence is hard for me. I get restless and antsy. I feel like I should be doing something else. In my life, however, it seems as though silence comes once every year through the season of winter. The weather gets colder, making the outdoors nearly inhabitable. Animals hibernate, birds don’t chirp, and I long for the cold weather to stop and the sun to shine. Having seasonal depression (ya boi pops vitamin D and B12 like it’s going out of style during winter), winter becomes harder and harder the longer it keeps trudging along. The silence and uncomfortableness of winter pushes me to think of how to deal with silence and discomfort in this crazy world while I wait for warmer days ahead.
During this season of silence, discomfort, and slight depression, Advent could not come at a better time for me. Advent comes from the latin word for “waiting”. When we look at the narrative and history of the Bible, we find that between the Old Testament and New Testament, there are around 400 years between the two books. During this time, the 12 tribes of Israel where waiting for a Savior. Imagine it. Imagine 400 years of praying, waiting, LONGING for a Savior and the response seems to be…silence. Imagine the doubt you might wrestle with during those years. Imagine never seeing the Savior come while you still prayed for it your whole life. Then imagine being alive to witness Christ’s arrival.
After 400 years, the “silence” broke. The Savior came! But the Savior didn’t come like they wanted him to come. He was poor. He was a carpenter. He didn’t want to overthrow the government, or really cared much for politics—He transcended them. He loved the marginalized. He ate with sinners. He hated legalism. He was killed—but we didn’t really kill Him. He’s alive and well!
As Christians, we live in a similar tension as the 12 Tribes of Israel. Just like I long for warm weather and the sun during winter, I need to be longing for the return of Christ. We are stuck in this period of waiting. Advent reminds us of that, and helps us turn and focus our gaze towards Christ.
Sometimes, this waiting can seem like silence. Atrocities happen, whether it be in the form of natural disasters, murdering of innocent lives, or hatred of people groups. This post isn’t meant to explain away these atrocities or give an oversimplified answer to a complex issue in the Christian faith, however, this post is meant to remind us that this waiting we’re doing isn’t passive. Christ came and gave us the gift of the Holy Spirit to do the work of The Lord. As we wait longingly for the return of Christ, we need to be reminded that this “silence” may be an opportunity for us as Christians to extend the same grace, love, hope, and forgiveness we’ve been given.
Let Advent remind us what we’re supposed to be doing during our period of waiting. Wrestle with the silence, sit in it, and look towards Christ for direction in the silence while we wait for His return. Sit in the silence and work through it.