Bible Study Day 3: Silence

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Genesis 29 – 42

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Perhaps it was a random occurrence of events or perhaps I’m forcing a narrative into a story, but after watching the movie Silence the story of Joseph was next in my reading. Silence is a movie about a couple priests who travel to 17th century Japan in search of their lost (and rumored apostated) priest. The story continues with brutal scenes of torture and depravity all the while the priests contemplate whether the mission is still worth it. In the midst of all the persecution the protagonist consistently prays, but is always left wondering if he’s even being heard and if so why has God remained silent.

I want to compare Silence with the story of Joseph, son of Jacob, who is sold to slavery by his brother after they become envious of Jacob’s favor towards him. After being sold by his brothers he succeeds under his new master so much so that Joseph was made in charge of the household in some capacity. It is when his master’s wife attempts to seduce Joseph and he flees where his life was turned upside down again by being thrown into prison after being falsely accused of attempted rape. Not much is told about his time in prison except a story of him interpreting dreams for a couple of other inmates in the prison with him, after this, two years go by before Pharaoh releases Joseph.

I wonder what did Joseph think while he was in prison unjustly. Being sold into slavery by his own family when he was a son of Israel, serving his master faithfully yet imprisoned anyway after refusing advances from his master’s wife. He had served God faithfully and he was in a prison anyway. Did he question God? Perhaps he wondered if he was worshipping the wrong god, or perhaps there was no god to worship.

Does God speak in His silence? Perhaps He does or perhaps He doesn’t, but when you’re in prison while dutifully serving Him silence just will not do. Why is He silent in the bad parts? Surely when life is young, healthy, and filled with hope we find favor with Him so much so we don’t have time for Him. Yet when life reaches its tragic moments have we fallen out of favor with Him? Is He there? A gust of wind for our troubles perhaps. The pain alone is enough to bare, but the silence can make the most devout man wish God were there so he could spite Him.

Pain and suffering demand attention while God’s silence demands patience and understanding. C.S. Lewis once wrote, “I suggest to you that it is because God loves us that he gives us the gift of suffering. Pain is God’s megaphone to rouse a deaf world. You see, we are like blocks of stone out of which the Sculptor carves the forms of men. The blows of his chisel, which hurt us so much are what make us perfect.” A surgeon rarely speaks to their patient when removing a tumour, medicine is needless to ask our opinion on how best to heal our ailments, yet we demand of God to speak to us as we seek to be like Christ. In our pain He suffers with us, in our pain He perfects us, and it is in our pain that He speaks to us.

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