Guilty. Of being silent. Many times I’ve believed that this was a strength. Doesn’t God’s Word tell us in several places, “Be still…”? Isn’t it good to think before speaking? But sometimes I think about a response so long that the thoughts never materialize into “a well-spoken word.” I come from a family line of stoics and “strong, silent types.” Recently, the death of an uncle reminded me that when his first wife, the aunt I adored, was killed in a car accident, he had told his young children they shouldn’t cry and they weren’t going to talk about it. Big mistake! Devastating consequences. Even in my immediate family, there are topics we simply don’t touch. Why is this? Is fear at the root of this kind of silence?
I read something recently that described fear’s disguises. It masquerades as procrastination, shyness, protectiveness, and other “not-so-bad” behaviors. I might have to address those in future posts. But hesitating to speak up is what this verse in Acts. 18:9 deals with: “One night the Lord spoke to Paul in a vision: ‘Do not be afraid; keep on speaking, do not be silent. For I am with you, and no one is going to attack and harm you, because I have many people in this city.'”
God was telling Paul, “Who is going to reach all these people if you don’t speak up? I’m with you. I will protect you. Don’t worry. You’ve got this.” I recently drafted a three-page letter, but did nothing with it until God gave me the boldness to email it to a person who immediately sent it to, of all places, the Pentagon. It was, for me, an act of breaking the silence. I felt a bit like Moses when he argued with God about his lack of speaking ability. God didn’t accept that as an excuse, though, because His people needed deliverance. Same with Paul here in Corinth. Because God was with him, his words would save “many people in this city.” Paul stayed there for a year and a half, teaching the Word of God.
I’m just beginning to realize and accept both the challenge and comfort that God gives in this verse. A friend reminded me of the saying, “The pen is mightier than the sword.” Words, spoken or written, have influence beyond what we can imagine. Knowing that God is with me, I will “keep on speaking.”
Is there a situation in your life where God is saying, “Do not be afraid; keep on speaking, do not be silent…”? Together, let’s trust that He is with us, protecting us and providing the words we must say.