Several years after my initial descent into deafness, my charts showed an inexplicable suspension in its progression. I couldn’t hear any better, but neither did my hearing get much worse.
My team of doctors couldn’t understand it. Mystified, they ordered test after test, trying to determine why my hearing loss seemed to be slowing down. They had no idea.
But I knew.
A short time after I’d yielded my demand that He heal me, I’d begun to wonder if I dared to ask Him for what any mother would want, what I longed for the most — more time to hear my children.
I knew better than to assume an attitude of entitlement all over again; to risk what I was gaining was out of the question.
Hearing God had become my passion, a reason to get up in the morning — the focus of my joy.
But every time I missed the stumbling sentences of my toddler or the whispers of my daughter or the boy-secrets too soon gone, my heart clenched in grief. A new baby now graced our family, the first to be born after my life-changing diagnosis. These precious lives were mine to know and mold and delight in — He had entrusted these gifts to me.
The importance of my role as a mother weighed heavily on my heart. How could I guide them deeper into relationship with Jesus if I couldn’t hear their hopes and fears, their questions and concerns? If talking to me was too hard, wouldn’t they give up and dismiss me as dispensable? How I longed to listen and hear them so I could know the nuances of who they were and who they would become. I was afraid that the rate at which my hearing was declining would preclude the possibility of shared confidences.
One evening as I walked along the shore of Seacliff beach, less than a mile from our home, with the sun hanging low to the west and my children romping and squealing and chasing waves, I asked.
Father, You know I’m Yours, all Yours. I really, honestly only want Your will, Your best, even if it’s my worst. You know that, don’t You? That I’m all in now, no conditions or expectations, no stipulations that You do for me what I’m asking…
But these children You’ve given me!
I look at John Mark and all his strength of will. I get this boy — how he’s not going to stop asking questions and probing for answers until he gets at the heart of the truth. I want to be the one to hear him. I want to be that person who knows what he means by the inflection of his voice, the mother who understands no matter what.
And Bekah, my joy-filled sparkle of hope. She needs me, Father, I really believe she does. She can’t decide if she’s a people-craving extrovert or a thought-filled introvert. How I want to ease her through all the confusion ahead, to guard her when people try to exploit her beauty and her open-hearted friendship. Please, Lord!
What about little Beth, my quiet and content middle daughter? How will she learn to express those things I see hidden behind her eyes? She’s my shadow, keeping herself close to me all day every day. How can I be her friend if I can’t understand what she has to say?
And now this new one, Matthew. He needs me to talk to him, to hear his little boy silliness, to listen to his cries. How will he ever learn to talk to me if I cannot hear? Father please!
Will You slow it down, this loss? Give me a chance to raise these little ones, let me hear until they’re old enough to walk with You. It’s going so fast — can’t You just hold off the inevitable for a little while?
On and on I walked, a strong sense of God at my elbow. I could almost feel Him thinking, as if He was considering my questions, weighing what He had in mind against what I was asking.
I heard nothing, but I felt His presence as we walked by the sea He had crafted with His own hands.
I could still smell the smoke from the fires of my own head-strong rebellion, and the stench left me wondering if the God I was getting to know would be merciful enough to grant the pleas of my mother’s heart.
And so I asked in careful tones, not really waiting for an answer, just hoping. Wishing that the loss would slow down. Watching to see if this time He’d say yes.
Would God help me find a way to stay connected to Him, to each of my children — to hear their hearts if not their voices?
During the early years of my faith journey, I learned a new word. It was a word I’d never heard in my previous life, a word not exactly bandied about on the evening news.
People often use this word as a sort of endearment, their voices going soft and sweet and full of hope. The word appealed to my good-life-seeking sense of safety and dovetailed nicely with the wonderful life I’d signed up for.
A blessing, I believed, was all sugar and spice and everything nice — the day-by-day evidence that the formula worked: If I tried hard to live as a good girl should, then I would be blessed by God.
My parents had taught us to notice all the blessings in our lives. To make a gratitude list when life seemed hard and the road got bumpy.
Count your blessings, name them one by one, and it will surprise you what the Lord has done.1
And so I’d learned to count my blessings. To give God credit for the good, nice, loving goings-on in my life.
My definition of blessing looked like a perfect life where everyone is happy and healthy and has plenty of everything. I thought it meant a reward for a life well lived — sort of a carrot-and-stick philosophy. The carrot included all the protective blessings I thought God promised. The stick was His discipline if I chose to go against Him, the consequences I knew came with disobedience.
My definitions fit very well with my neat and tidy life. The problem was, my definition did not fit so nicely with real life. Or the Scriptures.
The word translated as blessing in the New Testament is derived from the Greek word, makarismos, which means “to be indwelt by God through the Holy Spirit and, therefore, because of His indwelling to be fully satisfied in spite of the afflictions of life.”2
To be blessed actually means to be fully satisfied.
To thrive on the inside even if life is falling apart on the outside.
To be so filled with the joy of the Holy Spirit within that we are able to endure and taste the sweetness of His love even in the midst of bitter reality. Even when it hurts, even when we do not understand.
- Oatman, Johnson Jr. “Count Your Blessings,” Songs for Young People (Chicago, IL: Edwin O. Excell, 1897).
- Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament.
Excerpted with permission from He Speaks in the Silence by Diane Comer, copyright Diane Comer.
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Are you in the middle of affliction? Struggling to understand? Wondering if Jesus will answer your prayers? He is right with you. Hearing you. Taste the sweetness of His love today. Come share your thoughts with us on our blog! We would love to hear from you about choosing the joy of the Lord in spite of your circumstances. ~ Devotionals Daily