Don't Add to the Noise

Luisa Collopy

Contributing Writer
Updated Apr 16, 2024
Don't Add to the Noise

God’s answer will come, but only when we learn to turn off the noise and keep ourselves from creating more noise so we can refocus our attention on God, remembering that Jesus is our certainty. 

Jackie just gave birth to her son, and she didn’t feel too good about herself. All she wanted to do was stay in bed. She didn’t even want to care for her newborn baby. She was going through postpartum depression, or “baby blues,” a common medical condition associated with pregnancy.

For three months, Jackie felt sad and lonely. She often cried and talked about her doubts about caring for her new baby. Her husband and in-laws quietly listened to her, allowing her to cry and unburden herself, while they cared for her and her baby. Although still feeling the baby blues, Jackie finally talked herself into going back to her church. Sensing her inner struggle, the women at the church decided to quietly sit with her and hold her hand. No one added to the noise in her head with their words of comfort and wisdom!

However, Sin Can Be on Our Lips, Even When We Try to Help

The story of Job is a perfect example of someone “hard pressed on every side” (2 Corinthians 4:8-9) When God allowed Satan to test Job’s godly character, Satan’s first attack was to kill all his children and take away his property (Job 1:1-19). Despite the loss, especially the death of all his children, Job acknowledged God’s authority over his life. He “tore his robe and shaved his head and fell on the ground and worshiped. And he said, "Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord. In all this Job did not sin or charge God with wrong” (1:20-22). 

But Satan wanted more, so God permitted him to test Job again, with the condition to spare his life. This time, Satan struck him with “loathsome sores from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head” (Job 2:7). Again, Job never complained to God about his condition, even after his wife prodded him with these words: “Do you still hold fast to your integrity? Curse God and die” (v.9).

We have many choice words to say in our desperate moments. Claiming our intimacy with God, we spill our guts, including our frustration and anger in our situation, bringing all to God in prayer. But we tremble in our doubts, not sure if God really cares for us or sees and hears us to take us out of our pits. 

In Job 3, we see Job speaking to God about his troubles and why it would have been better for him to have died at birth: “I am not at ease, nor am I quiet; I have no rest, but trouble comes” (v.26). In his struggling with God, he started to lose hope. “Therefore I will not restrain my mouth; I will speak in the anguish of my spirit; I will complain in the bitterness of my soul” (7:11). 

We also have many choice words to say to others’ desperate moments. Just like Job’s wife, we want the sufferer to admit to some hidden offense or wrongdoing. In chapter 8, Bildad, one of Job’s friends, decided to give him some conscience-pricking words to jog his memory of any possible hidden offense to God: “Can papyrus grow where there is no marsh? Can reeds flourish where there is no water? While yet in flower and not cut down, they wither before any other plant. Such are the paths of all who forget God; the hope of the godless shall perish” (8:11-13). In short, “Where there’s smoke, there’s fire.” Surely, something wrong was done; hence, the suffering.

Or we spout holiness with assurances of God’s promises, spoken when the sufferer is currently walking in “the valley of the shadow of death” and grappling with God’s goodness in the situation (Psalm 23). There is sometimes no listening power for the sufferer.

Don’t Add to the Noise of the Suffering

Jackie may have had choice words in her desperate moments, but the people who surrounded her didn’t add to the noise in her head. In the beginning, Job’s three friends did the same. “Now when Job’s three friends heard of all the evil that had come upon him, they came each from his own place… They made an appointment together to come to show him sympathy and comfort him. And when they saw him from a distance, they did not recognize him. And they raised their voices and wept, and they tore their robes and sprinkled dust on their heads toward heaven. And they sat with him on the ground seven days and seven nights, and no one spoke a word to him, for they saw that his suffering was very great” (vv.11-13).

First, how many of us will be around for someone? We often make assurances that we will stand alongside our friends in times of need. But how many times do we really make good on our commitment? Job’s friends made an appointment to be there for him. 

Second, are we sensitive enough to see the situation and wise enough to change our plan of action? We like to attack a problem, so we arm ourselves with our go-to verses and prayers. But Job’s friends recognized his condition from afar, so much so that it made them grieve. They decided to mourn for him.

Third, are we willing to be still and offer quiet comfort and sympathy? Psalm 46:10 says, “Be still and know I am God.” Can we be still and let our suffering friend know that we are walking alongside him or her without even opening our mouths? Perhaps in the silence, we can focus on lifting our friend up in prayer. 

Years after Jackie’s postpartum depression, a friend called her. The woman was a young mother of three. Her husband left her. Jackie talked to her husband and asked if they could stay with her friend. For seven days, they lived with Jackie’s friend and children. Jackie allowed her friend to grieve and talk while she was the quiet, listening presence. No sound came out of Jackie’s mouth. Jackie’s friend healed from her loss and grief and cannot thank her enough for what she did. 

Don’t Add Noise to Your Own Suffering

Job’s friends eventually turned oout to be miserable comforters to him, accusing him of wickedness and unrighteousness for his suffering. They were unable to restrain themselves from speaking. And Job did the same, questioning God for an answer to his suffering. 

When God answered Job, he had to promise silence. “I have spoken once, and I will not answer; twice, but I will proceed no further” (Job 40:5). Job repented for his actions and acknowledged God’s majesty, and said, “I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted… I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you” (42:2,5). 

The Apostle Paul said, “But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed” (2 Corinthians 4:7-9). 

And just like Job, we will go through many forms of suffering. We will get hit. We will get knocked down. But we can get up! As believers in Christ, we too have the power of the Holy Spirit living in us. He will give us the strength to overcome difficulties so that we are not overwhelmed and destroyed or feel desperate and alone. 

God’s answer will come, but only when we learn to turn off the noise and keep ourselves from creating more noise so we can refocus our attention on God, remembering that Jesus is our certainty. Proverbs 17:27 says, “Whoever restrains his words has knowledge, and he who has a cool spirit is a man of understanding.”

Now, be still and remain quiet in your suffering, and know God is at work! Then, see God’s hand of delivery and restoration. Just like He did for Job, it will be more than you can imagine!

Photo Credit: ©Bogomil Mihaylov/Unsplash

Luisa Collopy is an author, speaker and a women’s Bible study teacher. She also produces Mula sa Puso (From the Heart) in Tagalog (her heart language), released on FEBC Philippines stations. Luisa loves spending time with her family over meals and karaoke!