Jesus heals in the silence

I wrote last week about running from the silence. I told you how when confronted by silence, I hid. When face to face with my loving Lord, I chose to disengage and instead opted for shame. Yesterday, I went to church and heard another message on the familiar story of Jesus and the Samaritan woman at the well. This woman, seen as the town slut, I’m sure, taught me something. You see, the difference between myself and her is that while she tried to evade Jesus in the conversation, she didn’t run. She stuck with it. And as a result, we have the beautiful exchange recorded in John 4.

Jesus said to her, “Go, call your husband, and come here.” The woman answered him, “I have no husband.” Jesus said to her, “You are right in saying, ‘I have no husband’; for you have had five husbands, and the one you now have is not your husband. What you have said is true.” — John 4:16–18

Hiding from the silence

While it seems a cruel trick for Jesus to tell the woman to call her husband, He’s giving her a chance to be real with Him. She answers a half-truth, trying to hide the lie of omission. You see, she’d been rejected by five men at that point. She was hurt. She was probably woefully hurt, in fact. At best, she was a second class citizen in her town, fetching water in the middle of the day because she didn’t want to deal with the condescension and the judgment of the other women of the town. Can you blame her?

Healing in the silence

While an odd exchange, Jesus’ blunt recanting of this woman’s past is not in fact condemning. It is little more than Him relaying to the woman that He knows her. He’s trying to get her to let go of the great burden of shame of five failed marriages. He’s trying to break through the facade. He’s trying to reveal what she wants to stay hidden, because only He can heal. And in only a few sentences, He does.

So the woman left her water jar and went away into town and said to the people, 29 “Come, see a man who told me all that I ever did. Can this be the Christ?” 30 They went out of the town and were coming to him. — John 4:28–30

Silence brings for the first missionary

From the well, the woman leaves her water jug and runs to tell the town about “the Christ”. The very people she was too afraid to be judged and condemned by are the very first people she runs and tells about Jesus. You see the shame that led her to avoid the other women of the town has all but melted away. Through the crucible of this strange, seemingly terse interaction, her overbearing boulder of shame has burned away. And she has a message that must be heard by her once-tormentors.

This is precisely what Jesus does to us in the silence. If we stick with it, even if we hide a little, He is still good enough to fill in the blanks for us. He is still loving enough to expose our darkness. It’s awkward. It’s uncomfortable. But it’s healing. It is the staying through the discomfort that brings us closer to wholeness. It’s in the silence that seemingly sharp words cut through the thick shroud of shame. Don’t run, friends. He is for you and wants to heal you.