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Today: Thursday, October 17, 2019
 


 

Shouting

First published 13 Oct 2019



Shouting can be distressing.  I am glad to have grown up in a home where shouting was very much frowned on.

Nowadays I find it painful to hear parents shouting at their children - and, for that matter, children shouting at their parents.  That goes too for politicians and protesters shouting their messages, often condemning others, though sometimes they do need to be heard.

It is not difficult to see that verbal abuse can sometimes be as damaging as physical abuse.  Both can deeply affect those receiving it. Both strike at relationships and undermine confidence, trust and personality. Both are signs that someone is not listening.

The Old Testament prophet Isaiah talks about the Servant of the Lord who is coming.  He will be filled with my spirit, God says, and he will not shout or raise his voice, or make loud speeches in the streets.  “He won’t break a crushed blade of grass or put out a dying flame” (see Isaiah 42, verses 1-3).  It’s a picture of gentleness and restraint that Christians have seen as being fulfilled centuries later in Jesus.

‘Meek and mild’ is not a good description of Jesus.  Gentle certainly, not loud or intrusive or shouting, but peaceful, reasoned, persuasive.  It doesn’t sound as though he shouted very much.

However, Jesus often spoke very directly and strongly, as he did to the religious authorities, though he was silent when on trial for his life.  But he did also shout.

There are three occasions which stand out.  One was when he drove the street traders out of the temple.  He overturned their stalls and caused quite a stir.  It doesn’t say that he shouted at them, but it is difficult to imagine that he didn’t raise his voice against profiteering in the house of prayer..  There are times, it seems, when speaking out against injustice and hypocrisy is justified.

A second instance was again in the temple, when he spoke “in a loud voice”, this time offering himself as the source of life-giving water - new life for those who believed in him (John 7: 37-39).  There must have been other occasions too when he had to speak loudly enough to be heard by the crowds - hardly shouting though.

The third most striking event was when in his dying moments on the cross, Jesus “cried out with a loud shout, ‘My God, my God, why did you abandon me?’” (Matthew 27:46).  If ever we need to shout at God, here is our justification.  Like many of the Psalms where the writers struggle to understand God’s ways and the puzzles of life, it’s OK to shout into the darkness.  That in itself is an act of faith - believing that there might be someone there to answer.  So at the end, Jesus, again in a loud voice, cried “Father, into your hands I place my spirit” (Luke 23:46).

Perhaps shouting then is more for the momentous moments, not for ordinary living.




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Prayer: 
Lord, hear me in the quiet and when I shout.  Help me to treat with gentleness those with whom I live.




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