by Jamie Bonnema
It seems that the ink in the pen has been dry for quite a while. The fluid thoughts and heartfelt responses to everyday life came to a screeching halt when suddenly more was on the plate than anyone expected. The moments in which ideas did began to form were stolen by the harsh reality of the aggressive type of reactions that were happening so frequently—by people we love, by colleagues, by neighbors, by friends, by family members, and by people we have never even met, too.
And so, many, many blogs ended with only a first paragraph, and abandoned with more disheartening thoughts, adding to the already heavy burden: What if this is taken the wrong way? Will this be taken out of context? Will people understand the heart behind the thoughts or will they read it in their own tone and apply their own pre-conceived perspective to the meaning? For someone just trying to do good, provoke thought, and challenge our own thinking, this has been a writer’s dream (with so much to write about) and nightmare (I am opening myself up to attack) all in one.
There are times when God gives us a message and we just go. Other times we second guess that message, maybe deciding if it is safe to proceed or not. Subconsciously we are weighing the cost. But all too often, we forget to weigh the cost of not acting—and those consequences we may not even be able to imagine. But God knows the cost from all angles. He also knows the blessing should we follow Him.
There is another side to consider. Our humanness. In our humanness, even the best of intentions can fall short at the minimum or end disastrously. We may cause more hurt to an already broken heart, push away people that we truly care about, or misrepresent the body of Christ. In working through our own pain and anger, we may target the wrong source or not even see the person before us. Speaking truth while including grace is often difficult, as it takes more thought, more restraint, and compassion to overrule our own emotion. We may be right, but truth plus grace is much more easily received.
And so, there is a time to be silent. The Bible says in Ephesians 4:26, “In your anger, do not sin.” In Proverbs 10:14, the Bible says, “The wise store up knowledge, but the mouth of the fool invites destruction.” Clearly these verses go hand-in-hand when we are faced with so much emotion, spurred by the wrong-doing around us, and we don’t understand how others can arrive at an opposite belief, given the same information. God knows it is our nature to sin. He knows we will be tempted to say things we didn’t intend, and we will do things we shouldn’t in the hopes of alleviating the burdensome feelings inside of us. Our tendency to try to fix what is beyond our control with worldly ways will separate us further from the grace, healing, and peace that Christ offers. It can even ruin us. And so, yes, sometimes we just need to be silent, while the world rages on loudly, to hear what God wants to tell us.
Through the many months of extra challenges that we have faced, my comfort has been in coming to an even greater closeness with God, that worships in anguish and worships in celebration. It has been a beautiful time of reading God’s word and seeing that prophetic word alive in the events of today. It is peace knowing that God gave us knowledge of what is to take place, not to be alarmed, but to “endure and be faithful.”
And now I come back to this predicament that we often have of knowing when to be silent and when to share a message. I guess I have been tested in this area, more over the past couple of years, and have not always had it right. On the one hand, I may not have acted when I should have—these instances flash through my mind repeatedly, and I just need to hand them over to God. On the other hand, I may have chosen the wrong time to speak, the wrong words to use, or the wrong person to share the message with. These times also can be a burden, for which I can only ask forgiveness and extend my hand once more. No matter which situation, I do think it is important not to dwell on it because there may be things that we cannot see in the process that only God knows about. Our feelings can tug at us after the fact, but God may be providing protection in the exact route we chose. Or, it was an opportunity for us to grow, be refined, and possibly a chance for the person on the receiving end to do the same. The point here is that we should hand back that control to God, pray that he will use the situation for good, and that the Holy Spirit will guide us going forward.
The last thing that I’d like to convey ties all of this together. The power of Holy Spirit and the Word of God helps provide discernment to act in Godly wisdom which cannot be substituted for any earthly measure or worldly perspective. By pursuing our knowledge of God’s Word and inviting the Holy Spirit to work in our hearts, we are not easily led astray nor fooled. We are putting on an extra layer of protection for truth and to reject all that is false. We are also protecting our actions and our words: “For the Holy Spirit will teach you at that time what needs to be said” (Luke 12:12). We are not to conform to the world but are to be transformed by the renewal of our minds so that we “may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable, and what is perfect,” as written in Romans 12:2. God promises wisdom when we pursue Him, as written in James 1:5, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.” And also, when we read God’s Word we understand this truth in Corinthians 2:14, “The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, because they are spiritually discerned.”
I have two prayers for all of you, and you may pray for me for the same: I pray that you boldly share when God places a message on your heart—that you are not deterred by those who try to silence that message. I pray that you seek God first, pursuing His truth above all else, to discern truth from lie, and to know when to be silent and when to act.
Jamie Bonnema is the PE Teacher and Athletic Director at Genesis Classical Academy. She is a married mother of four children and works part-time at home with a nutrigenomics business. She loves sports, outdoor recreation, and DIY projects.