“To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heavens:… A time to keep silence, and a time to speak.” – Ecclesiastes 3 v 1, 7
There are times in my life which are exceedingly dark. Times when I’ve so selfishly and unrelentingly catered to the flesh and neglected the things of God, that I’m brought to the point of utter misery. Sometimes God gives us what our flesh desires, to show us that it cannot ever satisfy, and eventually it becomes sickening. It was His way in response to the murmuring and weeping of the children of Israel in Numbers 11: “… and Jehovah will give you flesh, and ye shall eat. Not one day shall ye eat, nor two days, not five days, neither ten days, nor twenty days; but for a whole month, until it comes out at your nostrils, and it becomes loathsome unto you; because that ye have despised Jehovah who is among you…” (v 18-20).
A moment of self-examination shows the same ungrateful flesh in me – the flesh which hankers after spiritual Egypt, and despises the spiritual manna. The flesh has no taste for Christ. I have to confess that all too often I’ve murmured inwardly against God’s blessed provisions. In Numbers 11 the culmination of God’s dealings is a righteous judgement of evil, unsparing and final, so that the place came to be called Kibroth-hattaavah, ‘graves of lust’. Thanks be to God that there’s One who is infinitely greater than Moses, making intercession on my behalf, a patron with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous (1 John 2 v 1) – One Who has borne the wrath I so richly deserve, made propitiation for sins.
Having been brought through one of these dark times of waywardness and neglect, it’s often my first instinct to get on my knees before God, to confess my sins, lament my weakness, beg the Spirit’s help, and to pour out all my misery. A right instinct, I should think, but sometimes it’s “a time to keep silence” in the presence of God. Sometimes He would say, “Enough. Now, you will listen to what I have to say to you.” After a time of distance and turning away, it’s a wonderful relief, having come to myself like the younger son (Luke 15 v 17), and repented, to simply spend a moment at the feet of the Lord and hear what He would teach me about what has happened. There is always a lesson to be learned in these incidents – often a deeply humbling one. Every failure of mine and the consequent discipline is part of my education. The failure is allowed, and the discipline administered, by a God and Father Who loves me far beyond my feeble ability to comprehend.