The Silence of the Lamb (Part 1)

And behold, you will be silent and unable to speakthe Angel Gabriel to Zechariah (Luke 1:20).

There are 28 Zechariah’s in the Bible (according to The New Bible Dictionary).  But I feel a deep bond with the one who was the Father of John the Baptist right now.  Because he doubted the word of the angel that his wife Elizabeth would give birth to a son, he was striken mute.  The mean God of the New Testament strikes again.  No one is struck mute in the Old Testament.  (I’m an OT guy.)

I have been struck mute.  Well, not quite, but that’s what it feels like.  My vocal cords have somehow become damaged.  My ENT told me I should not talk unless absolutely necessary until my vocal cords heal.  The Silence of the Lamb (our housemate, Dave suggested that we watch a certain film with a similar title, see 2nd image).  I need to talk when I teach (Mondays, Thursdays), but otherwise I’m trying to avoid speaking completely.

Possible causes of my vocal cord damage:
1) From yelling while coaching.  I’ve coached my sons’ soccer and basketball teams the past 6 years.
2) From teaching too much.  It’s my job.  I talk a lot.  I’m loud.  Ask the people who work with me.
3) From reflux.  Reflux is caused in part by stress.  This past summer my wife’s brother Randall passed away, my mom passed away, and my dad was hospitalized.  It’s been an extraordinarily stressful summer.

I was given an array of meds to help with the Reflux.  A few days after I starting taking these meds, my reflux became worse.  I don’t know why this happened, but my stress levels have rocketed up lately.  One of the meds gave me headaches and now I can’t talk about how I’m feeling.  There’s a lot going on, but I don’t have a good way to express it.

To be honest, this has been brutal for me personally.

To help me express myself, my wife Shannon downloaded Verbally, an app for my iPad that speaks what you type.  It works pretty well, and I shouldn’t complain because it was free, but it’s not very loud.  I’ve grown accustomed to being loud.  So people can’t hear me “speak” unless everything is quiet.  There are two voices in the free version, “Rosie” and “Dave,” but “Dave” does not sound at all like Dave.

So, now I’m wondering, is God punishing me for some sin?  God was clearly punishing Zechariah for his doubt.  There are certainly many sins of mine that God could be targeting.  (I don’t have time to list all of them here.)

What do you think, does sin cause illness?  What relevant biblical examples can you think of?

Images from


  1. This is not coming from a mind that is theologically trained or anything, but the thought does arise that maybe muting Zechariah served a dual purpose. It was a punishment, sure, but it might also have prevented him from spreading faithless, negative talk around and about, thus protecting the faith of Elizabeth and perhaps others. That may sound daft, but I speak as someone who has been learning the power of the spoken word to bless or to curse.

  2. Just simply repent of all known sin and then repent for all unintentional sin but you have to really mean it. Then if you get better, you’ll know it was a hamartiogenic illness. If not, then you can stop worrying about it and move on.

  3. Zechariah’s silence also had a prophetic edge, (which probably didn’t make it any more fun while he was voice-less). It was his silence that convinced people he’d had a genuine encounter with God; his speaking again lent weight to the fact that John was meant for something great. Just saying.

  4. I would be more inclined to think that God is trying to teach you something, not punish you. Exactly what He is trying to teach you (besides the obvious patience, trust, waiting, etc.) may take awhile! So hang in there and keep your mouth shut as much as possible (because your students need you!)

  5. Well, don’t forget in our culture we tend to give ourselves the benefit of the doubt when it comes to sickness. Like hardly anyone I know even stops to realize that God has caused and allowed sicknesses for His own purposes. In James 5 the prayer of faith for healing is coupled with confession of sin.

  6. I appreciate Diane’s comment because God can be the immediate cause of specific sickness in a person. He may choose to use sickness as a form of discipline. For example, Gehazi received leprosy because of his greed (2 Kings 5); In Numbers 12, Miriam received leprosy because of disobedience and later on received healing due to her repentance; The 38 year paralysis of the man in John 5 is a case and point (Jesus said to him: “…Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you.” John 5:14) and in 1 Corinthians 11:27-32, some in the church of Corinth were sick and others had died due to their abuse of the Lord’s Supper. All this was a direct result of the judicial and remedial chastening of God.

    I’ll pray that Jehovah-Ropheka will prevail and Dr. Lamb becomes the next Pavarotti !

  7. Hi David, maybe your’e just stressed? You have had a really difficult year and whilst we are supposed to cast all our cares on Him… Well you know what I mean.

    Father loves you utterly and will continue to walk with you through this time. Whilst God does discipline His children when they refuse to confess obvious sin I wouldn’t be to quick to assume that is what is going on with yourself.

    If all sickness is God’s discipline, does that mean wellness is a reward? Hmm, not so sure about that.

    Go well 😊

  8. Don’t forget about the guy who was born blind not cause he sinned or his parents sinned but just so God could get glory when Jesus would come along and do a miracle.

  9. Question: were you thinking these same thoughts when you had heart trouble? Or when you last had a cold?

    I know that there is that verse in James (and I guess stuff in psalms too? And Miriam – okay, okay there is a bit of a pattern) which talks of sin causing illness, but I still get very twitchy when I hear it suggested. This is no doubt because I have an illness which many so-called experts tell me is my fault and that I have brought it on myself. There is a lot of guilt and victim-blaming in diseases which have a mysterious cause. Then we make medical discoveries and that lessens the victim-blaming stuff.

    Is it the fear of the unknown and not knowing the cause or prognosis that makes us jump to needing to ‘blame’ (either God or us) for an illness? Are we just resorting to medieval thinking??

    For what it’s worth, my recent revelation is that all suffering feels like it’s punishment from God. That doesn’t mean that it is…

    I am really feeling for you with the voice thing. There have been times (fortunately rare) when my M.E. has taken away my ability to speak – it’s like I have the words in my head but I can’t get my brain to get the signal for my mouth to move – the muscles are too weak. Neurologically, it seems to be easier to point than to speak. So I have had to communicate very slowly, using an iPod to tap out each letter with my thumb. It is frustrating both for me and for the person I am communicating with.

    When so much of your identity and passion (and personality) is tied up in your voice, it is especially hard. I’m praying that it heals up quickly. (And that people learn to look at you and listen to what you have to say, even though it takes more effort. I think you have valuable things to say).

  10. Great interaction here. Thanks for the engagement. Sorry, I didn’t respond sooner, life and the colonoscopy (see “Fear, Hope and A Colonoscopy” the post from Tuesday) on Monday prevented me. I teach 6 hours today, but I’ll post part 2 tomorrow (Fri) where I’ll try to engage with some of your comments.

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