“Through deaf­ness I hear God speak”

One woman’s story of learn­ing to truly lis­ten

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When Diane Comer be­gan to lose her hear­ing, she felt bit­ter and an­gry at God. But just when she’d lost all hope, she heard some­thing more beau­ti­ful than she ever could have imag­ined

Diane Comer walked to her car, swal­low­ing back tears as her doc­tor’s words echoed through her mind: Se­vere hear­ing loss… pro­gres­sive… you will go deaf. She’d no longer hear her chil­dren’s laugh­ter, her hus­band’s lov­ing words, the cheer­ful song of the birds in her back­yard. Ques­tions bom­barded her bro­ken spirit. God, how could this be? Why—when I’ve been a “good girl” and fol­lowed the rules I learned in church—are You do­ing this to me? How can I raise

my chil­dren to love You when I can’t even hear them? Diane tried to as­sure her­self that God would heal her. But as she drove home, one nag­ging thought re­mained: What if He’s not lis­ten­ing. What if my world goes silent for­ever?

CHAS­ING HAP­PI­NESS

Back in high school, Diane had de­cided that be­ing bad was the quick­est way to join the cool crowd. She’d smug­gled her par­ents’ liquor to school, gone to keg par­ties, smoked pot… “It wasn’t un­til our fam­ily started at­tend­ing church that I be­gan to yearn for an­other kind of be­long­ing, and for the joy I saw in the kids I met at youth group,” Diane says. She’d thought she had it all fig­ured out: “If I be­haved well, God would bless me with a good life. So I spent years fol­low­ing the rules to gain God’s re­wards.”

As the years flew by, God did bless Diane: She grew up, mar­ried a pas­tor and had beau­ti­ful chil­dren of her own. But though she was liv­ing her dream, Diane felt some­thing was miss­ing. “I should’ve been sat­is­fied, but in­stead I felt rest­less,” she ad­mits. “I kept ask­ing God, What’s wrong with me? Shouldn’t I be hap­pier?”

As Diane strug­gled with these ques­tions, she be­gan hav­ing trou­ble hear­ing sim­ple things, like her kids’ chat­ter or the buzz of the alarm clock. Tests re­vealed nerve dam­age, and the prog­no­sis was dev­as­tat­ing: an in­op­er­a­ble con­di­tion that would re­sult in per­ma­nent deaf­ness. Says Diane, “I was com­pletely con­vinced that God had done me wrong.”

“As my hear­ing got worse, I stopped buy­ing into the ‘God is love’ stuff. I was go­ing deaf, and where was He?”

“I’d cast all my cares on Him, and this was His re­sponse? Si­lence?” she adds. “Af­ter all my self-sac­ri­fic­ing, sin-deny­ing striv­ing to be right­eous, all He’d done was noth­ing.”

CON­SUMED BY BIT­TER­NESS

Des­per­ate to re­gain her hear­ing, Diane bar­gained with God for a cure in ex­change for her faith­ful­ness. “As my hear­ing got worse, I stopped buy­ing into the ‘God is love’ stuff,” Diane says. “I was go­ing deaf, and where was He?”

One Sun­day, a man sit­ting be­hind Diane in church tapped her shoul­der and spoke into her ear. He told her that God had given him a mes­sage that she’d be healed. “Well, He hasn’t told me that!” Diane shot back. “Why would He tell you?” She loathed the bit­ter per­son she’d be­come but couldn’t make sense of it.“With a snap of His fin­gers, God could save me from si­lence,” she says. “Sup­pos­edly, He’d told that man He would. But all I knew was that I was still go­ing deaf.”

THE ROBE OF LIGHT

Though her faith was evap­o­rat­ing, Diane was des­per­ate for an­swers and turned to the Bi­ble for a glim­mer of hope. She found it in James 5:14–15 (NASB): Is any­one among you sick? Then he must call for the el­ders of the church and they are to pray over him…the prayer of­fered in faith will re­store the one who is sick.

Diane’s hus­band ar­ranged such a rit­ual at their church. As the el­ders laid hands on her, some­thing changed—but not as she’d ex­pected. “A ra­di­ant light ap­peared and I felt God’s pres­ence, lift­ing my soul and eras­ing my fears,” Diane ex­plains. “In the si­lence, I heard God’s voice, so loud and clear that ev­ery nerve stood at at­ten­tion. He told me, It’s okay, Diane. In those sim­ple words, I knew He wouldn’t heal me.” But a

strange flood of hope filled her, and she felt loved as never be­fore.

Diane be­lieved she’d seen what the Psalms call God’s

“robe of light,” and it had filled her with joy. “Af­ter that, God was be­side me, speak­ing to me of­ten,” she says. “I couldn’t hear the world around me yet God’s voice was clear, telling me, I’m giv­ing you a gift. But first you must learn to lis­ten.”

Lit­tle by lit­tle, Diane got bet­ter at dis­cern­ing God’s quiet voice. But it wasn’t al­ways easy. On a fam­ily trip, frus­trated by half-heard con­ver­sa­tions, Diane stormed off to bed. “I mourned what I was miss­ing,” she says. “In the morn­ing, I poured my sad­ness out to God. He asked, Do you want your hear­ing back? Of course I should say yes! Yet I knew the truest an­swer was no—I soul-sat­is­fy­ing gift of hear­ing God. I’ve be­come grate­ful for my deaf­ness. This ter­ri­ble thing had be­come a pre­cious gift.”

SWEET SOUND OF LOVE

Since God res­cued Diane from a pit of de­spair, her devo­tion to Him has grown deeper. Now she has the peace and joy she’d al­ways missed. “I’ve learned how to truly be in­ti­mate with God and de­light in Him,” says Diane. “Prayer is no longer my telling God all I want Him to do, it’s lis­ten­ing to what He tells me. He un­tan­gles my wor­ries and fears. I press into Him and hear beauty. In­stead of shame and loss, I feel loved. And the truth is, He is will­ing to speak to any­one in the same way. I wouldn’t trade this close­ness with the Lord for the best hear­ing in the world.”

“I couldn’t hear the world around me, yet God’s voice was clear, telling me, I am giv­ing you a gift.”

Diane reads along as her hus­band, Phil, leads their con­gre­ga­tion

Diane finds joy in lit­tle things, like a day with her daugh­ters, El­iz­a­beth and Re­bekah

Learn more about Diane’s jour­ney of faith in her new book, He Speaks in the Si­lence (Zon­der­van, 2016; Paper­back $16, Kin­dle & Nook $9)

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