The doctor looked in my ears, shook his head, and said to me, “I’m surprised you can hear anything at all.”
“What?” I asked.
“Your ears have so much damage in there, I’m surprised you can hear anything,” he responded.
Indeed. As a kid I was sick all the time—ear infection after infection, cold, strep, flu, tubes in the ears, tonsils removed. You name it, I had it. And apparently all that illness and infection left its mark deep inside my ears.
I’ll admit I don’t have the best hearing. And yes, I’ll admit sometimes I have selective hearing. You know…that tendency to ignore something we don’t want to hear.
Years ago my Young Life leader told me that I couldn’t receive a compliment. He caught me totally off guard. “What?” I asked. (My “hard-of-hearing” was in full effect.) He explained that when people told me good things about myself I tended to deflect those things as quickly as I heard them. That I was in a sense “deaf” to the compliments people would give me.
Indeed. I’m not sure what it is but our hearing can certainly get muddled based on our past circumstances or present condition. I don’t mean hearing in the auditory sense. I mean hearing in the embracing-what-others-say sense. We’re simply unable to hear truth, or good, or positive, or right things. And believe it or not, this is an age old problem.
There’s a story in the Old Testament in which the Israelites were once held captive by the Egyptians. They became slaves and were treated very harshly by these Egyptians. So God told Moses His plan to free His people (the Israelites). He told Moses to share with the Israelites several promises from God Himself: “I will bring you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians…I will free you from being slaves…I will redeem you with an outstretched arm…I will take you as my own people…I will be your God…I will bring you to the Promised Land…” (Exodus 6:6-8).
God basically promised His people six different things in these verses. And these weren’t small things. They were great things. Magnificent things. Amazing promises. You’d think the Israelites would be throwing a party at this good news. But do you know what happened after Moses shared these wonderful truths with them? “…They did not listen to Moses because of their broken spirit and harsh slavery” (Exodus 6:9).
Sometimes it’s hard to hear when our reality is so harsh. It’s not that we don’t want to hear, it’s that our troubling reality sometimes speaks louder truth.
When this happens, and it frequently will, may the words of the Psalmist be our words: “Cause me to hear Your lovingkindness in the morning; for in You I do trust. Cause me to know the way in which I should walk; for I lift up my soul unto You” (Psalm 143:8).
In the morning, before my reality takes root,
Cause me to hear from You, Lord.
Open my ears to Your truth.
Let me know that Your promises can overpower my predicaments.
Cause me to know Your way.
I trust You.
I give myself to You.
Cause me to hear You, Lord.