Today’s title is a summary of some overwhelming thoughts that I was recently wrestling with. I couldn’t hear what I needed to hear because of all the other noise that was coming at and overcoming me.
Hearing is essential to all animals and we humans can distinguish 400,000 different sounds. All of these sounds are actually frequencies between 20 and 20,000 Hertz, but we are most sensitive to sounds between 500 & 4,000 Hertz and we are most sensitive to frequencies that are crucial to speech recognition. (So, most of us really do hear what they are saying. Ha ha)
The loudness of these sounds is important too, and is expressed in decibels, dB. Prolonged exposure to louder than 85dB will damage our ear and cause hearing loss. Just for your reference, a gas powered lawn mower loudness is 85-90 dB!
“In 1999, the World Health Organization determined in a 24 hour period, exposure to 70 dB would produce minimal hearing loss in 95% of people.” (1) For clarity, that means that if you were exposed to 70 dB of noise for 24 hours straight, 95% of people would experience minimal hearing loss.
Hang with me here, we’ll tie some things together shortly.
Our very mechanism of hearing is a complicated and marvelous design. Here’s a quick review:
- 2 identical units – right and left ear
- external ear – the pinna, ear canal and eardrum
- middle ear – malleus, hammer, incus, anvil, stapes, stirrup
- inner ear – oval window, cochlea
- auditory nerve
- the brain – not part of the hearing mechanism but the power that turns what we hear into a sound that we recognize and understand
The pinna acts as a funnel, collecting all those sound waves, and sending them along the 2-3 cm ear canal where they will bounce off the ear drum and onto those 3 tiny bones in the middle ear. Those lil’ guys amplify those “good vibrations” and send them on to that snail shaped cochlea that has fluid inside. That fluid stimulates tiny hair cells causing them to move. When they do move, these pore-like channels open up and chemicals rush in creating an electrical signal. The auditory nerve then carries this electrical signal to the brain and voila, our brain decipers what we are hearing.
The fact that we can hear at all is a very complicated process we ought not take it for granted.
But here’s the deal. Because we can hear, we are hearing all sorts of noise, facts, issues, voices, and news. Sometimes, like I experienced last week, there is so much noise, we can’t seem to hear with any clarity what is really important. We have trouble filtering through all the noise. (Is it just me?)
If we continue to expose ourself to loud and frequent noise it should come as no surprise that we would experience hearing loss. We become dull in our hearing first and then our heart even grows dull, heavy burdened. Then, sensitivity is lost, All because of the noise constantly bombarding our ears and taking root in our heart.
From the early first century, we have writings speaking to this very issue.
“Your heart has grown dull of hearing and your ears can barely hear.” Matthew 13:15 ESV
“You have become dull of hearing…” Hebrews 5:11 ESV
“Dull” in the original languages in the Hebrews text means, “sluggish, lazy; stupid, dull & slothful.” “Dull” in the Matthew text means, “heavy, weighty, burdensome, grave. Grievous, heavy.” And it is taken from a word meaning, “going down; a load. Abundance, authority – burdensome, weight.”(3)
The writers here, in the first century are speaking of people’s hearing becoming weighed down, burdensome, and even stupid with an abundance of authority loading on weights. Humph, sounds very familiar…
Here’s a look at how another first century writer describes the things that dull people’s hearing.
In the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.”2 Timothy 3:1-5 ESV
No wonder my hearing had become dull. The noise coming at me was alot of this garbage! It was loud. It was constant. It was burdensome, heavy and stupid! It had found it’s way into my hearing mechanism and further complicated my hearing process. (Just what I needed… NOT!)
I did as the audiologists (2) suggest – “If you have normal hearing and want to keep it that way…
- avoid loud & constant noise
- use healthy practices when listening to music
- avoid substances that harm your ears
- don’t let stuff (ear wax) build up
- be aware of infections
- check your heart condition
So I: turned off my 1 hour a day news show, the radio and canceled certain streaming. I choose to listen to only things, videos, and podcasts that would build up my faith. I avoided all things negative or harmful to my hearing and faith. I got rid of stuff building up inside of me, perhaps causing infections by having more serious prayer time. I asked the Lord to heal my heart and remove all hardness and infection.
I realized that my faith, personal convictions and reliance on Christ was dependent on my hearing. “Faith comes from hearing…” Romans 10:17 ESV
I couldn’t hear because of all the noise, so I cut the noise and increased those things that would build my faith. I listened to uplifting, encouraging, and spiritually nutritional things cuz I wanted by faith and reliance on Jesus renewed, and cleaned up.
My hearing has improved but only because I never again want to say or experience, “I can’t hear for all the noise.”
How’s your hearing?
- Centers for Disease Control cdc.gov
- Audiologynow.org – Sandra WIlliams 10.25.22; New Hampshire Hearing Institute, NHHI, nhhearinginstitute.com
- The New Strong’s Expanded Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, James Strong, LLD. STD.