Wisdom in Silence

Alongside my position with Global Education Ministries, I also get to run a coffee shop with my husband. It’s our dream business, and we have been up and running for almost a year now – praise God! One thing that comes along with being a barista, is getting to know my customers. I always say that baristas are the new bartenders. People for some reason really let their guard down and love sharing with the person providing their daily caffeine fix. Don’t get me wrong, I love it. I love getting to know people who I normally would have never crossed paths with. I enjoy hearing about the highs and lows of their days. And I’m blessed to even get to see so many customers turn into true friends. 

Anywho, where was I going with that? Oh yeah. Hearing about people’s problems. Everyone has something difficult going on in their life, and some people just feel good about sharing that. As an extrovert (and an enneagram 2), I love talking back and forth… and I especially love the opportunity to give advice. I hear a problem, and my instant thought is: “how can I help solve this?” This happens even with my family, friends and in my marriage. 

Recently, I’ve been reading the book of Job. If you’re not familiar, the book of Job tells the story about a faithful man of God named Job who was blessed with great abundance. The story starts in Heaven with a conversation between God and Satan. Satan implies that Job only loves God because he has such a great life, and he would surely deny God if it was all taken away. Confident in his faithful servant, God allows Satan to strip Job of everything he loves– his family, his wealth, and his health. Job suffers terribly, even though he didn’t sin or disappoint God in any way. Most of the story describes conversations between Job and his friends, who assume that Job must have sinned greatly if he is suffering so terribly. Although Job goes through horrific events that most of us have never seen, he keeps his faith in God and remains steadfast.

I remember reading this story in the past, and my main takeaway always was– “Wow, look how strong Job’s faith was! He must really trust God. I need to trust God like that.” Which is a great takeaway and lesson to learn. But this time I noticed something different. When Job’s suffering began, his friends came to his aid – but for the first week they didn’t have any words. They just sat with him in silence. After some time, they began to “give advice,” emploring Job to confess his secret sin and repent so he can be healed. They described the horrible ways God will judge wicked people, insinuating that Job must be wicked because his life looked that way right now. Great friends, right? In the middle of losing everything, and they only come over to tell you how wicked your are.

While reading it these speeches made by Job’s friends, it’s easy to pick out truths that they share. The way they described God’s hatred of wickedness is TRUE. God does detest sin and evil, and he will bring judgement to all of those who don’t come to Him in repentance. But this wasn’t true in Job’s case. His friends had NO CLUE the interaction between God and Satan in Heaven… They assumed they knew everything which in turn made them out to know nothing at all. It is crazy to think that you can be so right (speaking truths) and so wrong (speaking them out of context, or assuming God’s will) at the same time.

The commentary I was reading during my study time turned to the fact that the wisest thing any of Job’s friends did during the entire story was the very beginning when they were silent for one week. They sat with Job and said nothing. This made me think of all the times anyone has brought problems or suffering to me, and how quickly I am to jump in and add comments, truth, or advice. I now realize how much wisdom there is in silence. In listening. In being humbly quiet before your friend and before God. I can speak truth after truth, but how do I know what God is really doing in the hearts of others if I’m so quick to assess the situation and put my human spin on it. 

There is humility in acknowledging that I don’t know everything, and I especially don’t know God’s purpose in every problem or trial that myself or my loved ones encounter. Of course there is time for lifting up and encouraging, and maybe even speaking into a situation with truth and love – but I think that should come after the silence. After the listening. After the quiet seeking of God’s heart and guidance. So that’s what I’m aiming to practice in the coming weeks with my friends and even my customers. Let’s see how God can speak to us if we are quiet enough to listen, even on the behalf of others. I don’t want to assume that my advice is needed or even wanted. I want to walk in God’s leading and love others the way He will guide me to. That’s my takeaway from Job this go around reading it, and I can’t wait to see what God will teach me next time.

– Rachel Ellzey, Director of Communications

Rachel graduated in 2014 from the Communication Studies department at the University of North Carolina Wilmington, with a focus in video production. She loves her home state of Texas, where her family still resides. Rachel served as a missionary teacher for a year and is now living in North Carolina with her husband working as GEM’s Director of Communications and running their coffee shop, Social Coffee & Supply Co.