Tuesday, July 24, 2012

What’s that Sound You’re Trying Not to Hear?

On our recent trip to Arizona, we stepped outside the first morning to hear a loud buzzing sound, at first thinking it was a power line, but soon realizing the sound was coming from the trees—Tree Crickets.  The crickets show up in the monsoon season. I’m sure one of the locals will tell us we’ll get used to them. Our home in California is on the railroad tracks.  When we bought it, people said, “You’ll get use to the noise.” But whoever said that never lived near train tracks.

I wrote a post a few years ago, “You May be Speaking, but I'm Not Listening!” in which I said  we had to learn NOT to pay attention to the trains. There are always going to be things we’d rather not hear—airplanes, street traffic. But we have the ability to block them out.  Unfortunately, we can also block the voice of God. Jesus said such people have “hardened ears.” It occurs to me that with increasing suffering in our world, we will be tempted to steel ourselves against it—hardening our ears (and hearts).

In speaking of the beatitude to show mercy (Matt. 5:7), John Calvin explained, “We must patiently bear our own afflictions, but we must also bear the afflictions of our neighbor, assuming their identity, as it were, so as to be deeply touched by their suffering and moved by love to mourn with them. We must weep with those who weep.” Let us pray we won't become hard of hearing the sounds of the suffering of others.  Bear one another’s burdens (Gal 6:2).


  1. Hi Dr. Greg,
    I think hearts become hardened in three ways. One way is that the people harden their own heart. One way is that hearts are hardened in response to circumstances. And one way is that God hardens hearts. Pharaoh, in experiencing the ten plagues, experienced all three ways, to the eventual destruction of that which he held most dear. The neck that does not bend to hear the voice of God will eventually break when it experiences the judgment of God. Better to hear early and hear often.
    I lived near a freeway years back. Eventually, I no longer heard the traffic noise, and only paid attention to it when a newcomer pointed it out to me. I now live near a major thoroughfare. When I moved to this home, the road was not as major a road. Due to the gradual increase in traffic, I have gotten used to the noise, and I no longer hear it. Sad to say, this is like what has happened with the gratuitous sex and violence in movies. In movies, the storyline (character development, plot moving forward) has to actually stop so that nakedness or violence can be displayed, then the storyline is picked up again when the gratuitous scene is done. Due to the law of diminishing returns, it requires more evocative extremes to elicit the same emotional response on the part of the viewers. Hence, the spiraling of sex and violence in movies as they push boundaries. And people once shocked at scenes now think the older scenes that got the same ratings are tame (like signs posted on street corners in my post about yesterday's blog). What used to be "R" is now "PG."

  2. Hi Larry
    You are so right about the spiral downward. No wonder we are 'commanded' to stir each other up whenevere we see one another, and as the writer say, especially as we see "the day drawing nearer." I don't know think you are as old as I am, but I have seen such terrible decline in the media (TV particularly) in the last 55 years that I feel like I need to SHOUT to this generation who accept the moral decline as 'normal,' what I referred to the other day as "new normal." Blessings to you Brother,Greg