As a mother of three crazy children, when I think about a silent night, I think glorious. Since the year two-thousand and five when my oldest was born, quiet nights have been few and far between. Our youngest is almost ten, and we’ve just now convinced him that he doesn’t need to climb in my bed every night. So silent nights sound like a glorious thing to me. However, as I began to pray and search scripture about the silent night Christ was born, I started to realize that a silent night was far too familiar to God’s people. Silent nights were probably the exact opposite of what they needed and wanted to have. Let’s take the shepherds for example:
In the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields and keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened. Luke 2:8-9
Here we have the shepherds, going about their normal routine, one silent night after another; same thing happening night after night. But I wonder, were they living with the expectation of something new? Were they going out night after night hoping tonight would be the night the Messiah would come? And if that’s true, if they lived with expectation, why were they terrified?
It had roughly been 146,000 nights, over four hundred years, since God had sent a prophet to speak to His people. So I can imagine they may have grown weary in expecting God to speak, or move, or send the Messiah anytime soon. I feel like the shepherds and us have a lot in common. They waited for Jesus, just as we wait for His return and wait for Him to work on our behalf and in our situations. I’m even willing to bet that we wait like they may have – weary and without much expectation.
But before you get down, thinking it’ll be four hundred years before God moves on your behalf, let me show you what else I see in these verses: do you notice the word SUDDENLY? The shepherds were faithful in tending their sheep, one silent night after another, and while it’s possible they may have grown weary in waiting, they didn’t stop doing the work. They kept working and then suddenly, God showed up and rocked their world. Not only that, but God’s glory shone all around those lowly shepherds. They were considered poor and without much value in those days. But God saw value in them. He chose the poor, socially and spiritually, to be the first to hear and share the good news that would forever change the world.
I don’t know how many silent nights you’ve prayed for your miracle, perhaps you’re feeling weary from all the waiting. I get it, me too sometimes. Maybe you’ve spent night after night praying for a lost loved one or a prodigal child. Perhaps you need a miracle in your marriage or a healing in your body. Maybe for you, it’s financial and your silent nights are filled with worry. I have had my fair share of silent nights waiting, and I still do. There are many things in my life I believe God for, but silence is all I hear right now. But can I encourage you (and me) to keep working, keep praying, keep believing, and keep expecting because eventually there will be a SUDDENLY.
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6