Hear, Listen and Understand

by | Aug 3, 2021 | Communication, Listening

‘”Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand.” (Matthew 13:9 NLT)

My husband has a moderate-to-severe hearing loss and wears hearing aids. At first, they were the basic kind. As we drove in the car, he would complain, “You’re talking to the windshield. I can’t hear you.” I would get impatient with this comment every time. I didn’t understand that the sound was going into his ears, but had no meaning for him.

Later at the hearing centre, we explored new technology in hearing aids. The audiologist had asked that I be present, and played several recordings for my edification. The first was a scenario in a crowded, busy restaurant. A couple was interacting with the server above the background noise. I followed the conversation amidst clanking cutlery and general hubbub. “And this is how Terry hears it,” he said. What came up was half the conversation, the other half distorted, muffled waves of sounds, totally incomprehensible. I burst into tears, finally understanding the depth of his hearing loss. “Get those expensive hearing aids!” I exclaimed.

Terry got the fancy hearing aids, and his ability to hear and understand improved. My skills at communication with him improved as well. I learned that I first had to get Terry’s attention. I had to face him, so that he could see my face and read my lips. I had to speak clearly and enunciate my words carefully. No more trying to communicate by calling from a different room. If I didn’t follow these steps, Terry’s interpretation of my words ended up being quite different than what I originally meant. I had to listen to these instructions and learn to follow them, so that my husband could hear and understand.

Similarly, we need to learn to listen when God is trying to get our attention, like young Samuel did when God was calling him. Jesus said:

Pay close attention to what you hear. The closer you listen, the more understanding you will be given — and you will receive even more.” (Mark 4:24 NLT)

We, too, hear many words in the course of a day. We need to really listen in case God is trying to get our attention and tell us something as well. The Holy Spirit within gives God-meaning to what we are hearing. It is not enough to merely understand that there is something that God wants us to do. We need to obey, and take the appropriate action, as Samuel did.

“Humbly accept the word God has planted in your hearts, for it has the power to save your souls. But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says.” (James 1:21b-22a NLT)

Let’s put into practise what we hear and read from the Word. As we do what God is telling us to do, we will hear additional truth more clearly. Our understanding will be sharpened, and we can be more fruitful for His kingdom.

Prayer: Lord, thank You for our faculty of hearing. Help us to pay attention and really listen when we hear or read words that are messages from You, so that we can do what You are asking us to do, for the furtherance of Your kingdom. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.

Copyright © 2021, by Alice Burnett <terrencera.burnett@gmail.com>, first published on the PresbyCan Daily Devotional presbycan.ca .
Red Deer, Alberta, Canada


Hear, Listen and Understand