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XLVIII

BREAKING THE AWFUL SILENCE

“Jesus saith unto her . . .”—John xi. 23.

WHO likes to break the silence when some sorrow has stricken our neighbor dumb? The stroke has fallen, and that which was so beautiful lies in apparent ruin. There is a strange silence. All the bird-song is hushed, as when a gun has just been fired in a grove And who likes, I say, to break the silence? We often just take the hand of the one who is smitten dumb, and we clasp it in a masonry of sympathy which has no other speech.

And sometimes those who do speak only intensify the pain of the silence, and make it harder to bear. Their words have no significance. Their wallets have no cordials. Their lamps have no light. Their ministry has no grace. What has the materialist to say, that is worth saying, when the heart is 168aching in the unfamiliar pangs of bereavement? What word of comfort has the secularist when there seems to be nothing in all the wide world but a newly-made grave? What song has the agnostic which can fill the silence with a quickening hope? All these attempted ministries may disturb the sorrowful, but they leave the desolate soul in a silence which is all the more desolate because of their futile effort to break it.

How many such fearful silences there are to-day! In how many millions of lives the sunshine has fled, and all the birds are hushed, and it seems as though the final night has fallen, and as if there will be spring no more! “Speak Thou, availing Christ, and fill this pause!” And the Lord Jesus Christ will speak in the awful pause. And his word is not as a mocking echo in the halls of death. It fills the vacancy with life and light. “The words that I speak unto you they are spirit and they are life.” The grace of His speech is as ample as our need, and His comforts are as deep as our pain.

His word besets us behind, and before, and it lays its hand upon us. It covers the entire field over which our soul is wandering in 169pathetic vagrancy. It throws its hallowing grace over our yesterdays. It enfolds us in our present journey. And it lights up tomorrow with eternal hope. When the Lord Jesus breaks the silence, He breaks what makes the silence deadly; He breaks the bondage of the soul, and spiritual assurance is born, and the winter is past, and the time of the singing of birds is come. He is waiting to speak to us if only we will listen. “He that hath ears to hear let him hear.” “Speak, Lord, Thy servant heareth!”

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