Listen to this devotional:
Listen while you read: "Be Present At Our Table Lord"1 (Lyrics)
There is a couple in my church who appear to have the perfect life. Their most common expression is a smile. They both teach Sunday School, and they share their Christian witness often. Their Facebook posts feature happy events and their love for each other. Their younger daughter recently married and is expecting her first child.
But their lives together haven't always been — or even right now, are not — sweetness and light. When she was two, their older daughter suddenly became mentally incapacitated in reaction to an illness or medication. She required constant care and was often violent toward her younger sister, who had to hide in her room to escape physical damage. The parents rarely got a full night's sleep, as the daughter never slept through the night and couldn't be left alone. Thankfully, medication was eventually discovered that calmed her down, but she will always require special care. She now lives in a care facility, but her issues continue to impact their family. Then, when the younger daughter was in her teens, both mother and daughter were injured when a car smashed into them as they ate outside a fast-food restaurant. The mother was in the hospital for many days, recovering from her injuries. The daughter suffered emotional trauma. Aging parents add another burden to their lives.
James 1:19a – You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry. (NLT)
1 Thessalonians 5:14b – Take tender care of those who are weak. Be patient with everyone. (NLT)
Everyone has a story. Unless we take time to get to know people, we never know how trauma, grief, or illness have impacted their lives. And everyone needs someone to listen to their story. There's an old saying that we have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak. So first, we need to listen for God's voice and seek His wisdom. Then, we need to listen to others and let them tell us what's going on in their lives. We can ask questions and wait patiently for them to open up.
That's not always easy. Notice these words in today's Scriptures: quick to listen, slow to speak, be patient. It's much easier to blurt out our own stories or to be too busy for quality time with someone. But when we slow down our lives and take the time to really focus in on someone, we'll find that our lives are enriched as well. I learned much of what I shared today by hours of talking with my friends as they stayed at my house overnight. It deepened our friendship and gave me new insight into and appreciation for how they've persevered through the years.
As we actively reach out to those around us and really listen, we can extend God's grace and love to them as He has extended it to us. We can learn to appreciate them, to love and care for them, and, in turn, to build our own character as we act like God would have us to act.
Prayer: Father, so often we're impatient with others, not understanding the events of their past that have made them who they are. Help us to be patient, to use our two ears more than we use our mouth, and to extend Your love to others as we take time to listen to their stories. Amen.