It’s been the span of just one month (at the time of writing this), and the amount of horrific tragedies having occurred all over the world have been nothing short of countless (while nothing compared to the amount that this entire year has wrought).
I say countless, not because these events have been innumerable, but because even just ONE of them is ONE TOO MANY.
It’s felt as if the whole world has just been soaked—steeped, like a bag of tea—in chaos; in darkness; utterly in a void.
And it didn’t take long for the Internet…well, social media, to follow suit. What I’ve witnessed it become, I can only describe to be some sort of collective madhouse serving to accomplish nothing but an overwhelming—damn near deafening—cacophony.
Articles and blog posts after articles and blog posts after articles and blog posts.
Politicians and speeches.
Articles and blog posts about politicians and their speeches.
Facebook profile picture changes.
And all the “Likes.” Ohhh, all the “Thumbs Ups” Facebook “Likes” and “Shares” and “Repostings” and “Thoughts and prayers,” after, “thoughts and prayers,” after, “thoughts and prayers.”
And for reasons I’ll elaborate further on in time, through it all I’ve remained…uncomfortably silent. Not because I have nothing to say (quite the contrary, in fact), but rather, for motivations I’ve felt to be considerably significant.
I’ve remained silent because it’s been abundantly clear that EVERYONE has something to say…and NO ONE really seems to be doing any listening.
It’s as if whenever our world is steeped into the VOID, the only thing we ever find ourselves doing is nothing; nothing but stand at its precipice, and scream, and shout, and cuss, and cry out, all of it, into that VOID.
And it just feels like it accomplishes NOTHING.
I have seen so so much of people’s hearts hurting, aching, breaking, for all the suffering and tragedy and loss that has repeatedly occurred within this span of just one short month. Now whether these emotions are genuine or just for show is not for me to say; though I will state with certainty that I believe there is an unmistakeable distinction between having a big heart, and having a heart in the right place. And please don’t misunderstand me here, I am by no means criticizing (nor calling into question) anyone’s sentiment, anyone’s heart, and anyone who has found themselves on that precipice screaming and shouting and cursing and crying. Nor am I just cynically ranting about the pointlessness of social media and all that it entails (the fact is not lost on me that this very piece represents exactly what I’m eluding to…).
But rather, I am sincerely expressing the personal struggle I’m having with a question as difficult for me to find an answer to, as it is for me to just simply find the correct words in the correct order to correctly word the question itself. And it is a question I long to have answered both for my own selfish reasons, but also in hopes of righting all this wrong I’ve seen in response to the world unavoidably spewed and spewed and spewed all over the internet.
And I’m as much asking myself these questions (if not genuinely so much more), as I am positing them to you.
When you stand at the precipice—filled with emotion that you’re just longing to express—and you scream and shout and spit and cuss and cry into the VOID, just WHAT IS THE POINT.
What do you do when it seems as if NOTHING you say or do seems to make ANY difference?
What do you say when all you see is no one listening?
I mentioned before that through everything that has occurred recently, I’ve found myself in a place of tense silence. And to be fair, much of it had to do with timing, and a preoccupation with caring for my infant son. But the fact remains that these questions have plagued me long before thematically outlining this piece. As I said, I’ve personally had many thoughts about so much of what has transpired these past weeks, coupled with a desire to write them all out (I even had a clever, kitschy title summarizing what I wrote, “Teething, Terrorists, Trump, and Troubles.”).
What stopped me? Well initially I’d like to say that because no one asked my opinion or thoughts, I really didn’t give a damn about sharing anything.
And I know that there is at least a part of that remaining.
But the bulk of what’s been holding me back are those very questions I listed above.
When it feels as if all I’m doing is shouting into the VOID—when all I am doing is nothing more than adding to that VOID, WHAT IS THE POINT.
When I struggle with believing that NOTHING I do seems to make ANY difference, what is there for me to do?
And ultimately, regardless of anything I might have to say…about anything, when the response appears to be as if NO ONE has “ears to hear,” WHAT IS THE POINT of saying anything?
… … …
I’m not sure if I’ve ever heard the phrase “ears to hear,” anywhere other than in a Biblical context; “for those who have ears to hear, let them hear.” Though it’s a phrase that I’ve easily glossed over time and time again when reading Scripture, I’ve become enamored with it, because it truly captures both the simplicity and sincerity that lay at the heart of genuine Christianity like magic from fairytales being both the same and different, hard enough to build a foundation, but fluid enough that you never can quite think you’ve got them all figured out.
“For those who have ears to hear, let them hear.”
Simple and straightforward.
A phrase I’ve always (or, at least until recently) taken at face value.
Jesus is recorded frequently finishing whatever he was speaking with that phrase: “for those who have ears to hear, let them hear.” And THE closest I think I come to understanding it is essentially saying, “for those of you that are truly actually paying attention—for those of you that are truly actually listening—YOU’LL get what I’m saying.”
I quite often find myself easily bombarded by a mess of bright and spastic, overwhelming visuals that…I fail to really see.
And even more frequently do I find myself comfortably consumed by the cacophony of long winded explanations and pompous justifications that…I fail to really listen.
When I find myself staring at the VOID too long? That’s all I start to believe.
And voids are anything BUT simple, and anything BUT sincere.
“For those who have ears to hear, let them hear.”
What is the simplicity promised within these words?
What is the sincerity promised within them?
What are the words?
Echō ous akouō akouō(!)
• Echō (G2192: to have, hold)
• ous (G3775: the ear, ears)
• akouō (G0191: hearing, to hear, listen)
“Echō ous akouō, akouō(!)”
Whenever Jesus finished with these four words, it was never a conditional statement.
It was a PROMISE!* (*Yes, exclamation point included.)
Jesus wasn’t concluding by saying, “for those of you actually listening, you’ll get it.”
No, Jesus was making a promise:
“Oh listening ears, listen!*”
(*rf. Greek grammatical notes on Matt. 11:15)
Were there those ears that didn’t listen? Of course there were.
And neither is it any different today. There are those that just DO NOT LISTEN.
There are those who—for whatever reason—cannot hear the “Word(s) of God,” instead hearing only thunder*, and there may very well continue to be so.
(*rf. John 12:28-30)
There have been—and may always be—“children” in loud, busy marketplaces, willfully and firmly placing their fingers in their ears and making whatever cacophony possible in order to drown out the music that would compel them to dance; who preoccupy themselves with countless distractions of their own design so as to never hear the “dirge” and mourn; simply and sincerely, mourn*.
(*rf. Matt. 11:16,17)
The reality of the world we live in seems far too clear:
EVERYONE has something to say, and yet NO ONE is listening.
EVERYONE has enormous hearts, but enormous hearts that have become hardened and calloused.
There have been, and always will be, people who make so much noise—who make the most noise—not out of a desire for themselves to be heard. No. We all have that desire, and not all of us struggle with it that way. There have been and always will be people who make as much noise as they can solely (dare I say spitefully?) to KEEP TRUTH OUT. Whether it’s truth in the form of thunder, or truth much less in the form of a whisper, even a whisper sharp enough to cut through prideful, arrogant, opinionated, cacophony.
There have been, always will, and may even currently be, people you know, people you’re related to, people on Facebook, and people staring at you every time you look in the mirror, who boisterously spout off their views and opinions not because they long to have them heard—not because THEY long to be heard—but because in doing so, they effectively deafen themselves, drowning out anything and everything else…especially truth.
Because truth isn’t safe.
Because truth can (and quite often times does) hurt.
Because truth quite literally forces us to face an end of ourselves, the end of ourselves.
But at the end of ourselves is something so much bigger, and—truly—so much better.
The truth of the matter…the truth of ALL matter…the truth of everything THAT matters is this:
We ALL have ears to hear, and those ears were MADE TO HEAR.
And whether you’re unable to hear due to impairment, or due to affliction, out of violence, or out of fear; or whether you’re unable to hear because you’ve spitefully crammed your fingers in your ears and are screaming at the top of your lungs—Jesus made a promise that ALL WILL HEAR.
And I may not be able to convey in detail and with certainty just HOW that promise will be kept, I do know He’s pretty good at keeping His promises…at keeping His Word.
Oh, and when He does make due on His promise?
That moment ALWAYS tends to be enough to melt hearts and get EVERYONE listening:
What else is there to leave you with but this:
“Echō ous akouō, akouō(!)”
“OH, You listening ears, LISTEN!”