One of the hardest things about this stage of motherhood is the silence. I’m not talking about silent nights and quiet evenings at home, but a silence that speaks of no results. It’s a silence that gives no immediate feedback, that doesn’t recognize your work; that folds, stirs, scrubs, drives, schedules, and juggles without praise or recognition. It is silence that gives no indication of effectiveness or accuracy. It is the silence of the unrecognized mundane.
But there is truth in the Christmas story that stirs within me the desire to embrace this hard kind of silence.
God’s people are not unfamiliar with this. For 400 long years before Jesus was born, the mouth of God was shut and the understanding of the nature of His heart was twisted in the teachings of Pharisees. These years, known as the Silent Years, stretched long between the prophetic words of Malachi and the angel, Gabriel’s, good tidings of great joy. For four hundred years the people of Israel went without hearing a Word from their God until the announcement came that The Word was coming in the flesh. (Luke 1; John 1:1-3; 1 John 1:1)
The Silence is Broken
For those four hundred years people like Mary, Joseph, Zechariah, Elizabeth, Simeon and Anna clung to the promises despite the deafening silence that echoed around them.
(Luke 1, 2)
“And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, for he will be great before the Lord…to make ready for the Lord a people prepared.” (Luke 1:14-15, 17; to Zechariah regarding John)
“Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” (Luke 1:30-33; to Mary regarding Jesus)
Finally! Four hundred years of silence came to a crashing end when the Word of God descended, and the Promise of God was born; silence turned into singing!
“Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” (Luke 2:14; the angels praise)
The Silence of Motherhood
These joyously hard years of motherhood are years where work is hidden behind the doors of my home in stacks of laundry, meals they won’t eat, and whispered desperate prayers. As a mom living in the hard, unseen, unrecognizable mundane, I cling to the truth of four hundred years of silence that turned to thousands of years of singing because of Jesus.
I cling to the truth that God’s promises are kept because of Jesus. I cling to the truth of eternity to come because of Jesus. I cling to the hope of redemption and sanctification because of Jesus. In this, these years of hard silence, the Gospel can sing, will sing, does sing.
For Zechariah the silent years turned to a song of salvation. For Elizabeth the silent years turned to a song of rejoicing. For Mary the silent years turned to a song of blessing. For Simeon the silent years turned to a hope fulfilled. For all of us the silent years turned to a song of the arrival of the Lamb of God, the Messiah, who takes away the sins of the world. This is our Gospel song! (John 1:29)
And it isn’t the highest and the holiest alone who get to sing. The songs of the Redeemer are echoed through the voices of the most humble.
Two thousand years ago, God remembered. Not that He had forgotten but that God, at the end of His holy waiting, reached His mighty arm towards us and in the “fullness of time” Mary gave birth to her firstborn son who was the Son of God. And the Gospel sang! (Galatians 4:4-5; Luke 2:7)
And in the humility of the moment – the crude manger, the young girl, the poor Joseph, the dirty stable, the despised shepherds – we know that we are remembered. In my humility - my growing children, my unseen sacrifices, my lost sleep, the nose wiping, and the meal prep – I am remembered.
The joy of Christmas is in being remembered. It is when we remember that we are remembered, that we are seen, and that God loves the simple so much that He came as one Himself. Yes, the silence turns to a Gospel song, a chorus of many, and a ballad of love because the Son of God is God with us; He is the Lamb of God, and the Word of God who broke the silence that caused the singing.
“for my eyes have seen your salvation
“that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples,
“a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
and for glory to your people Israel.” (Luke 2:30-32, Simeon’s song)
Can you relate to these silent years of waiting and the joy of our Redemption Song?
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