A wise friend once told me that when you bear witness to dysfunction, sometimes you are called to speak up and advocate for change. But sometimes you are simply called to see it. And say nothing.
Recently, my family found ourselves on the wrong side of a wrong decision that we never saw coming. It felt like after a pleasant cruise, the captain had steered our ship right into an iceberg. I swam away cold, breathless and confused, trying to make sense of a nonsensical situation.
I was outraged and frustrated and wanted to scream bloody murder from the rooftops. I wanted to tell everyone the story. I wanted to fight back. I wanted to be heard.
But God stayed my voice.
Whoever keeps his mouth and his tongue keeps himself out of trouble. Proverbs 21:23
Have you ever tried to walk obediently but kept tripping on your flesh? That was me. Anger bubbled to the surface. Resentment clawed at my heart. Annoyance sought agency in my spirit. But I plastered a smile on my face and kept stumbling forward – saying nothing to everyone I wanted to say everything to.
To speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people. Titus 3:2
I sought wise counsel from my closest friends and poured over God’s Word. I realized that when you’ve cried all your tears and railed to all of your confidants, all you can do is pray. And when you drank from a trough of injustice but God told you to be quiet, it’s best to zip your lips and trust Him.
So I prayed. And I trusted. And I prayed some more.
Lord you have searched me and you know me. You know my every thought. You know when I am wrong and you know when I am right. Show me if there is a grievous way in me and lead me in Your truth.
It was through the act of obedience … reluctant, rote obedience … that my spirit eventually softened. And I made peace with the outcome.
If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless. James 1:26
When my heart was finally tender enough to listen, my faithful God spoke. He whispered into my weary, wrung out soul that He is for me and for my family. And not only that, through a series of unexpected conversations after the dust settled, God revealed just enough of the big picture to gently set my soul at rest.
I learned that there were things I didn’t know. Things I hadn’t seen. Things that meant the outcome was actually a blessing in ways that had nothing to do with the actual decision.
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28
He knew. He saw. He had a plan.
What others intended for harm, He intended for good.
What I saw as rejection, He planned for protection.
When I wondered if my perspective was all wrong, He affirmed what was true.
When I wrestled with outrage, He showed me the way to forgive.
The Lord nudged me to to walk confidently in my decisions and let go of the dysfunction in a broken system I was not in a position to change. And He gave me permission to speak the truth in love – once I could do so without anger.
Whoever covers an offense seeks love, but he who repeats a matter separates close friends. Proverbs 17:9
Its no wonder God’s Word implores us to guard our tongues. They can bless or curse or build up or tear down. They can be instruments of peace or instruments of division. And we always have a choice.
It is not easy to stay quiet when your spirit is screaming to be heard. Its never easy. But we have to remember that the only One whose voice matters is the same One who always has our very best interests at heart.
I am grateful God didn’t allow me damage my character over someone else’s mistake. And I am glad He told me to hush up and let Him handle it.
If you find yourself facing injustice, God might call you to wield your voice. But He might want something else entirely. He might want you to see the dysfunction but remain quiet. And it is never wrong to stay silent, trust the Lord and let Him lead the way.