This phrase was brought to my attention this week. Jesus said it seven times in the Gospels. Of course those who he spoke to, had physical ears, but not spiritual ears to hear what He was teaching them, partly because they did not have a heart ready to hear.
God brought this to my attention this week as last week my right ear became plugged. I have allergies and so I concluded it was due to this. We were set to go out on the weekend so there was not much I could do. Thursday we left and didn't come back until Saturday. The weekend was great but I was frustrated that my ear wasn't getting any better. In fact, I thought is was worse. During my drive home I actually prayed, "God let me have ears to hear your voice." I managed but wanted to get this solved. When we got home I tried everything but nothing worked. On Monday I called a specialist and made an appointment for the afternoon. When I was with the ear technician, I explained what was happening. She looked at my ear and saw it was red so she decided to have the doctor look at it first, guessing that I might have an outer ear infection. If this was the case, I thought to myself, this will be easy. When he came in the room I was taken, he asked a few questions which I answered. He looked into my ear and said he would clean the inside. After doing that, he asked me if I could hear well. I told him no. He then sent me to have the hearing test. The technician did all the tests and said that there was definitely something going on with my right ear. The doctor came back to see me and told me that I had Sudden Sensorineural Hearing Loss (SSHL). This he told me, has no definite cause, perhaps it was genetics, an acoustic neuroma, or viral infection. He said he would put me on prednisone for thirteen days, which he said was the only proven medication that could restore hearing loss. Furthermore, he said, he wanted me to have an MRI which I scheduled for the following Monday to see if there is a benign tumor that is causing the hearing loss.
All of this was a bit shocking or surprising to me. I have really good hearing (or had) and could not believe this was the case. This could possibly be a permanent state. As I got out, I thanked the Lord I had one good ear and asked that his will be done. If it is His will, to heal me, I would be thankful. If not, I would rely on his grace. But I must say, it is not easy.
About a week ago, I was preparing material for a missions short-term class. In it, it has all the unreached people's groups. One of them was the deaf. I've never hear of them being an unreached people group, so I skipped it. I wasn't interested. After my incident, I thought about that. I understood some things they experience. For a week, I've experienced an imbalance of hearing. My left ear picks all the sound which my brain interprets it as really loud. The other ear, my right, lives in almost total silence. I hear a certain percentage but is distorted, making shrieking sounds as it tries to send the right signal to the brain. It is muffled. I hear the chirping of the night. The two ears are saying two different things (I have laughed at how people sound on the left side). This makes me feel like I have a permanent cold. I speak louder. I understand a little bit of what it means to be (partly) deaf and can't even fathom what it means to be totally deaf. This experience, whatever the outcome, has made me understand how I take for granted God's gifts. We all do. We have ears, He speaks to us through His Word but we don't listen to Him. But He made those ears, primarily, to listen to Him.
A pastor friend of mine took me to lunch this week and he asked me a very unusual question, unusual because no has asked me before and it is not common either. He asked me, "What has brought you joy recently?" I thought about it for a few seconds and said to him, "I know I should answer trials because that is the right answer. That's what the Bible says." I went on to explain what had happened to me with my ear. Though this experience didn't bring me joy, my response should have a joyful response. Joy is that internal attitude of gratitude that realizes that no matter what circumstances we face, good and especially bad, is an opportunity to trust in the Goodness of God. All easier said that done. But joy is not natural, it is supernaturally given by the Spirit of God (Gal. 5:22-23) but it can be learned through obedience. Whatever the outcome of this experience, I know it has changed me. I pray that I will have ears to hear Him every day!