It pays to listen carefully because it’s easy to misconstrue.
Posted in , Jan 28, 2022
Among the many shortcomings of email and texting is that they don’t always accurately convey the sender’s tone of voice.
Say you reply to a work colleague about a solution you find satisfactory. You type, “Fine.” The next day, when your coworker apologizes for annoying you, you realize that your text may have sounded peeved, when all you intended to say was, well, “fine.”
Similar misunderstandings can arise in short verbal exchanges as well, when the other person infers a meaning or attitude we didn’t intend to convey. Or we think we hear something the other person never meant to imply. It can all be very confusing. That’s why it’s important when praying or reading the Bible to listen carefully…for God’s tone.
The Bible tells us that “The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love” (Psalm 103:8 NIV). Yet for various reasons, including our own personalities or past experiences, we may “hear” a harsh, even cruel tone from Him.
When Jesus’ closest friends and followers cried out to Him for help on the turbulent Sea of Galilee, before He calmed the storm, He said, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” (Matthew 8:26 NIV). We read the words, but what tone do we “hear?” Anger? Impatience? Disgust? But perhaps His tone was “compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love.”
I try to remember that verse from Psalm 103 when I’m reading my Bible and praying, especially when I’m trying to listen in prayer. Maybe it’s because I grew up as the youngest in my family or that I’ve always craved approval from those I love or some other reason, but I often tend to “hear” my Lord speaking sternly to me. “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Or “Why did you doubt?” (Matthew 14:31 NIV). Or “Why do you worry?” (Matthew 6:28 NIV).
But as I grow in faith, I am learning to hear a different tone when I pray or read God’s Word. I’m listening for His “compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love” voice. When I remember to listen for God’s tone, it often changes the whole conversation.