Thursday, February 28, 2019

Listening to the Broken Places - Part 2

Now when Job’s three friends heard of all this adversity that had come upon him, they came each one from his own place, Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite; and they made an appointment together to come to sympathize with him and comfort him.  When they lifted up their eyes at a distance and did not recognize him, they raised their voices and wept. And each of them tore his robe and they threw dust over their heads toward the sky. Then they sat down on the ground with him for seven days and seven nights with no one speaking a word to him, for they saw that his pain was very great.
Job 2:11-13

Listening to those who are suffering can be difficult because we often do not know what to say. Frequently, the best thing we can give is not words but simply our presence. Like Job’s three friends, they come and sit with him “with no one speaking a word to him, for they saw that his pain was very great.” Sometimes, just listening in silence is good.

Listening is a very active awareness of the coming together of two lives. Henri Nouwen

Sharing with another who is suffering is a privilege. Nouwen reminds us that listening is an “active awareness” and a “coming together” of two people. Healing can occur when shared stories merge. He goes on to describe this active listening as “weaving a new pattern” with “two different life stories stretched on the same loom.” This joining of hearts and stories enriches both lives. Knowing you are not suffering alone and finding others who have had common experiences can alter perspective. Sometimes, listening to each other’s shared experiences proves necessary. - dho


Thursday, February 21, 2019

Listening to the Broken Places - Part 1

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For just as the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance, so also our comfort is abundant through Christ.”
2 Corinthians 1:3-5

Henri Nouwen writes, “A wounded healer is someone who can listen to a person in pain without having to speak about his or her own wounds.” As we look at the word ‘comfort’ in this Scripture, we find the Greek word parakaleo which means “to call to one’s side” or “to summon help” or “to encourage”. Clearly, believers in Christ who receive comfort are called to come alongside others with comfort. Often, simply listening can be the comforter’s greatest resource. 

God’s comfort includes His presence which comes through Grace. The God of all Comfort comforts us, and we comfort others. This comfort also speaks to eternal comfort for our future lives. God’s comfort is abundant and full of hope. God listens to us.

Blackaby writes, “Just as God has come alongside our lives to comfort so we do likewise to other believers.” While struggling with disappointments and difficulties, God comforts us, encourages us, and gives us hope. When we struggle, Scripture tells us we enter into the sufferings of Christ. Having found comfort in our suffering, we are then to come alongside side others, to offer comfort. Listening to the broken places becomes part of being a ‘wounded healer’. Nouwen explains, “We have to trust that our own bandaged wounds will allow us to listen to others with our whole beings. That is healing.” -dho

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Your Servant is Listening!

 “Then the LORD came and stood and called as at other times, “Samuel, Samuel!” And Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant is listening.” 1 Samuel 3:10

In the Scripture today, ‘listening’ comes from the Hebrew word shama which means not only ‘to hear’ but ‘to hear with the intention of obedience’. Warren Wiersbe says that Samuel “became a great man of prayer.” Here we see Samuel, in the infancy of his faith, responding to God. We know that he is obedient in telling Eli what God says. This is shama, listening with intention to obey.

Henri Nouwen writes, “Prayer is the first of all listening to God. It’s openness. God is always speaking; He’s always doing something. Prayer is to enter into that activity.” To enter in to prayer requires a mutual communication, that we speak AND listen. Listening to God’s voice is more than just taking notes of what we understand God to be saying; instead, true listening must include an obedient response. It is actively participating.

Eugene Peterson says, “Listening is an act of personal attentiveness that develops into answering.” We see that Samuel answers God, which would imply a prayerful reply. Peterson suggests this provides us with “a model on how to listen to God’s word and respond to him in prayer.” Let us practice shama, the art of spiritual listening, to hear and to answer in obedience to God. -dho

Thursday, February 07, 2019


“But oh! God is in his holy Temple!
    Quiet everyone—a holy silence. Listen!” Habakkuh 2:20

It is good to simply be quiet, sit in the quiet and listen for God. Too often we busy ourselves with living life, too busy to listen, too busy doing, even too busy talking to God. Noise and activity drown us, suffocate us. Listening must be intentional. 

Silence takes many forms. Find a place of silence that fits your life. Then recognize God, be His holy Temple, res in the holy silence. Listen! Recently I saw this thought, “The word ‘listen’ has the same letters as the word ‘silent’.” Our souls crave silence, are starving for quiet. Spend some time today - in silence - and listen! -dho