How Loneliness Can Hone Our Hearing
The word of God, you see, is alive and moving; sharper than a double-edged sword; piercing the divide between soul and spirit, joints and marrow; able to judge the thoughts and will of the heart.” Hebrews 4:12
The mac and cheese had grown cold by the time my kids traipsed through the back door for lunch on that carefree day long ago.
“Why didn’t you tell us it was time to eat?” asked my oldest. He clutched his stomach in an exaggerated charade. “I’m sooooo hungry,” he complained.
Our backyard had been teeming all morning with the happy noise of neighborhood kids gathered to play.
“I called for you three times, but you were so busy playing with your friends that you didn’t hear me,” I gently explained.
My hangry boy grumbled and took his place at the table.
His younger sister climbed up beside him, saying, “Mommy, sorry I didn’t come when you called. I didn’t even hear you.” She flashed me a contrite smile. “I guess I just listen better when I’m lonely.”
I tried not to laugh at my little girl’s word choice, but big brother couldn’t contain his giggles. “You mean alone,” he corrected with second-grade expertise. “You listen better when you’re alone.”
Unconcerned with matters of linguistics, my preschooler shrugged her slender shoulders. “Mommy knows what I mean.”
My bright-eyed girl was right. I knew exactly what she was trying to say.
But what I didn’t realize on that day long ago is that my daughter’s mixed-up word choice holds a tender truth for us all.
Sometimes we just listen better when we’re lonely.
Moses was tending sheep on his own in the wilderness when he heard the voice of God speaking from a burning bush.
Elijah was standing alone on a mountain when he heard the Lord’s whisper in the wind.
John was imprisoned on a remote island when he heard the voice of Jesus inviting him to write down the final revelation of Scripture.
And though I’ve never found myself alone in the wilderness or abandoned on an isolated island, I’ve certainly been in lonely spaces and hard-pressed places.
I’m guessing you have, too.
Maybe you’ve been called to a job beyond your comfort zone or distanced from the community you cherish. Or perhaps you’re navigating a situation your friends can’t understand or carrying an ache your family can’t fix.
Though loneliness is something few would choose, there’s a gift tucked in its unwanted folds if we’re willing to unwrap it. Loneliness reveals our longing to hear from the One who sees our need and knows our ache.
It was in a lonely season when I opened my Bible as a listener instead of just a learner. I no longer wanted to merely read about Jesus; I wanted to hear from Him.
Hebrews 4:12 reminds us that the Bible isn’t just informational; it’s also relational. God’s Word isn’t a static drone of wisdom from the past; it’s the vibrant din of His voice in the present.
“The word of God, you see, is alive and moving; sharper than a double-edged sword; piercing the divide between soul and spirit, joints and marrow; able to judge the thoughts and will of the heart.”
It’s amazing but true — through the Holy Spirit, Jesus can deliver a right-now word through Scripture’s ancient truth. He speaks to each of us personally and purposefully. He knows exactly what we need to hear and when we need to hear it.
Just as listening to the people around us requires time and intention, so does listening to the voice of our Savior. The more time we spend with Jesus, the more we know His voice. We grow familiar with the pitch of His promises and tone of His Truth, the timbre of His faithfulness and the ring of His assurance.
Maybe it’s time to turn our lonely seasons into listening seasons, so we can discover for ourselves that the words of a bright-eyed girl hold true.
Loneliness really does hone our hearing.
But best of all, we just may find that hearing assuages our loneliness, too.
Because when we hear the voice of Jesus, we remember we’re not really alone.
Dear Jesus, I want to hear from You. Please help me to recognize Your voice as I seek You in Your Word. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Matthew 4:4, “It is written, ‘Man does not live by bread alone. Rather, he lives on every word that comes from the mouth of the Eternal One.’”
What’s one thing you can do to be more intentional about listening to Jesus?