I have about a 30-40% hearing impairment. I don't know for sure what has caused my hearing impairment. I have behind-the-ear hearing aids. I often get ashamed of wearing them in front of people that I have not known for a long time. It is so embarrassing when people say, "What is that in your ear?" It really embarrasses me. How should I respond to that? My hearing aids are not helping that much, but I can tell a difference. I still often have to ask people to repeat what they have said. It is getting very frustrating. Voices are what I have the most difficulty hearing.
I have had the audiologist adjust them several times, but it is still not working. I do not understand why advertisements say that hearing aids make the understanding much better when in reality it doesn't make understanding much better. It is very unfair for the elderly who have much more difficulty hearing than I do to pay so much for something that does not help them. How does God feel about this? The advertisements are a lie! Lies are something that God directly speaks against in His Word. I would like to encourage you to never buy hearing aids if you lose any of your hearing. They will not help you like you think they will. They just make it sound like they do. You can see in the eyes of the advertisers on television that they are LYING! The hearing aid companies will rip you right off. I'm serious!
It is not fair that my dad is paying for something that is not doing its job. Any time I ask somebody to repeat something, they will often get angry and annoyed. How do I respond to this? I asked a girl to repeat herself one time and she just said God's name in vain. I get so fed up with that mess. This makes me even angrier and annoyed because I can't help it that I can't hear well. If I knew how to make my hearing come back, I would do it. Do you know how to make hearing come back? If you do, please let me know. I really want to know. People can be so hateful to me over my hearing problem. How do I respond or react to something like that? I have to somehow.
I have prayed that God would make my hearing come back. Why hasn't He brought it back? I want you to know that I am a member of the Lord's church and I know many members of the Lord's church teach that God doesn't work miracles anymore. I strongly disagree with that. This is the main area that I disagree with. I believe He can work miracles, but not exactly in the way He did in the first century. Many quote this passage to prove that God does not work miracles anymore:
"Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away" (1 Corinthians 13:8-9).
This verse is actually speaking of gifts of prophecy that people (not God) will no longer have since we now have the Bible to live by. This teaches that people will no longer be able to work miracles. God gave some in the first century to be workers of miracles. Miracles, such as those done by people, have ceased. It says nothing about what God can or cannot do. If God does not work miracles, then what this:
"Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen" (Ephesians 3:20-21).
According to Ephesians 3:20, God can do much more than we can ever ask or imagine. You can't sit there and tell me that God cannot heal the sick or work miracles. If God doesn't work miracles, then why did He all of a sudden stop? I have heard people say, "Well, God gives us enough sense to go to a doctor and take medicines." I want you to hear me out on this one. What if there were no doctors? We would most definitely have to depend on God to help us. They did not have many doctors in the first century. The deaf in the first century were healed of their deafness. If God cares enough about me, then why will He not heal my hearing impairment?
I just thought I would let you know what I am going through. I do believe that God can work miracles. I have read the Scriptures for myself. I try to avoid reading the scriptures with an "I think" or "In my opinion" attitude because it does not matter what I think. It matters what God says. Whenever we teach the Word of God, we are to "speak as the oracles of God" (I Peter 4:11). I just believe that we as Christians cannot work miracles because God is much more powerful than we. I need some help in the areas of my hearing impairment because it is affecting relationships with friends. I am so scared that I am going to be deaf when I get older. If I go deaf, I will lose most of my friends. I won't be able to do anything anymore. I want to do the things that a normal person would do. I do not want to be deaf. I would rather be dead than be deaf. If I go deaf, I will have no friends anyway. I'm serious. Why does God allow deafness? It is very unfair.
While I haven't directly experienced the loss of hearing, I know many who have suffered both what you are experiencing and other similar problems. For example, my youngest brother is legally blind and his little remaining vision continues to deteriorate. I also have several friends who are deaf. I happen to know American Sign Language and I've even taught Bible studies and preached in Sign Language in the past. I'm only pointing these out so you know that I'm not unsympathetic to your plight.
It is important that you first understand why there are handicaps in the world today before we can address your own situation.
Afflictions may come because of Adam and Eve's sin
When God made the world, it was perfect. It contained no flaws (Genesis 1:31). But then Adam and Eve sinned and the world became not so perfect as a result of their sin. "Then to Adam He said, "Because you have heeded the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree of which I commanded you, saying, 'You shall not eat of it': "Cursed is the ground for your sake; In toil you shall eat of it All the days of your life. Both thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you, And you shall eat the herb of the field. In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread Till you return to the ground, For out of it you were taken; For dust you are, And to dust you shall return"" (Genesis 3:17-19). Therefore, we can point back to our original ancestors as the reason imperfections exist in the world. Since their sin, the world has been undergoing decay. "Lift up your eyes to the heavens, and look on the earth beneath. For the heavens will vanish away like smoke, the earth will grow old like a garment, and those who dwell in it will die in like manner; but My salvation will be forever, and My righteousness will not be abolished" (Isaiah 51:6). As this world wears down, things like genetic diseases become more prevalent.
Afflictions may come because we are bad
There are times when diseases are used as a punishment for sin. Uzziah wanted to offer incense to God and when he tried to force the issue, he was struck with leprosy for the remainder of his life (II Chronicles 26:16-21). Sometimes, though, the problem is the result of someone's sin. After all, we are bearing the consequence of Adam and Eve's sin. Jeremiah complained that Israel, in his day, was suffering for the sins of their ancestors. "Our fathers sinned and are no more, but we bear their iniquities" (Lamentations 5:7). Yet, before we are too quick to blame someone else, we need to realize that we are also responsible. God told Jeremiah that they were suffering because the Israelites were continuing in the sins of their fathers. "In those days they shall say no more: 'The fathers have eaten sour grapes, And the children's teeth are set on edge.' But every one shall die for his own iniquity; every man who eats the sour grapes, his teeth shall be set on edge" (Jeremiah 31:29-30). They never broke the pattern of sin established by their forefathers, so of course, the consequences continued. In the same way, we continue the practice of sin, just as Adam did. "Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned" (Romans 5:12).
Some sins, such as sexual sins, contain a naturally high risk of disease. "For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due" (Romans 1:26-27). As a result, the resulting disease serves as a deterrent to such sins.
Afflictions may come because we are good!
It was Satan, through the serpent, who tempted Even into opening the door to sin (Genesis 3:1). Satan has never been satisfied with God's work. As an example, Satan wanted to make Job's life miserable in hopes that Job would leave God (Job 1:6-12). Job suffered many loses. Satan did not reveal to Job who was doing it. For all Job knew, God had turned His back on him. When Job did not turn against God (Job 1:22), Satan attacked Job's health (Job 2:7-10). There is a lesson we did to take with us from the story of Job. Some misery in this world is due to Satan trying to turn people away from God. "Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you. Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world. But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you" (I Peter 5:6-10).
Afflictions may come to make us better!
In the story of Job, we should also notice that Satan had to go to God for permission to do what he wanted. He does not have free reign in this world. So why did God allow Satan to make Job's life miserable? It was to prove the strength of Job's character. "My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing" (James 1:2-4).
People lift weights, but why go through the misery of repeated workouts? The answer is that muscles are built only when they overcome resistance. For the same reason, what makes us spiritually stronger is the facing and overcoming of problems. The result is that we become better people.
Paul suffered because it gave him a better perspective on life. "And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure. Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. And He said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness." Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ's sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong" (II Corinthians 12:7-10). People can't improve until they realize that they are not perfect. Thus, afflictions are chances to train. "Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it" (Hebrews 12:11).
If you ever have done weight training, you know there is a danger of overdoing it. If you try to lift a weight that is beyond your ability, you will damage your muscles instead of building them. In the spiritual realm, the same danger exists. But God limits what Satan can do so that we are never faced with a problem that is beyond our ability to handle. "No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it" (I Corinthians 10:13). Though God puts limits, many people still give in to the temptations anyway. This isn't God's fault, but rather people not resisting either through laziness or carelessness.
Afflictions may come by happenchance
People don't know what the future holds. "For I considered all this in my heart, so that I could declare it all: that the righteous and the wise and their works are in the hand of God. People know neither love nor hatred by anything they see before them" (Ecclesiastes 9:1). Some events just happen. There isn't a correlation between the event and the individual. "I returned and saw under the sun that -- the race is not to the swift, Nor the battle to the strong, Nor bread to the wise, Nor riches to men of understanding, Nor favor to men of skill; But time and chance happen to them all. For man also does not know his time: Like fish taken in a cruel net, Like birds caught in a snare, So the sons of men are snared in an evil time, When it falls suddenly upon them" (Ecclesiastes 9:11-12). Some disasters, especially form an individual's viewpoint, happen randomly.
While we have little control over those disasters, what God expects from us is to do our best. "There were present at that season some who told Him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And Jesus answered and said to them, 'Do you suppose that these Galileans were worse sinners than all other Galileans, because they suffered such things? I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish. Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them, do you think that they were worse sinners than all other men who dwelt in Jerusalem? I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish'" (Luke 13:1-5). What we do when disaster strikes is more important than the fact that disasters sometimes strike us.
Affliction may serve a purpose
"Now as Jesus passed by, He saw a man who was blind from birth. And His disciples asked Him, saying, "Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?" Jesus answered, "Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but that the works of God should be revealed in him"" (John 9:1-3).
Sometimes an affliction may come to serve a greater purpose -- one that you and I may not immediately see. This man's blindness existed to prove that Jesus was the Son of God and the testimony this man gave later shows the wisdom of God in selecting him.
Sarah lived her life unable to bear children though she greatly desired a child. Was God being mean to her? Or didn't the delay strengthened Sarah and gave God the opportunity to accomplish a miracle through her?
Or consider the death of Lazarus. Lazarus' sickness and death happened so that Jesus could show his power over death. "When Jesus heard that, He said, 'This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it'" (John 11:4).
I can't say why you are losing your hearing, but then whenever disaster strikes, men are often unable to pinpoint the reason why it came. We know God is in control, but we don't have the insight into what God has in mind for us. However, we are expected to do our best with what we are given. When Moses wanted to get out of leading the Israelites, he offered the excuse that he was a poor speaker. "O my Lord, I am not eloquent, neither before nor since You have spoken to Your servant; but I am slow of speech and slow of tongue" (Exodus 4:10). God's response is that God made him just as he was. "Who has made man's mouth? Or who makes the mute, the deaf, the seeing, or the blind? Have not I, the LORD?" (Exodus 4:11). While Moses thought his speech impediment made him unsuitable for service, God essentially said it was a part of Moses' qualifications for the task God assigned him.
God made you as you are, but the fact that you don't have perfect hearing doesn't mean you are less useful to God. God is able to make good things come as a result of bad things happening. "And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose" (Romans 8:28).
I agree that God operates in this world. Yes, He has the power to restore your hearing. But what neither you nor I know is whether such restoration will serve you or God's purpose best because we don't know why you are facing hearing loss in the first place. There is an old poem that I found years ago. I don't know who wrote it, other than it was found on the body of a Confederate soldier, but it explains this well:
I asked God for strength, that I might achieve
I was made weak, that I might learn humbly to obey.
I asked for health, that I might do greater things,
I was given infirmity, that I might to better things.
I asked for riches, that I might be happy,
I was given poverty, that I might be wise.
I asked for power, that I might have the praise of men,
I was given weakness, that I might feel the need of God.
I asked for all things, that I might enjoy life,
I was given life, that I might enjoy all things.
I got nothing that I asked for – but everything I had hoped for.
Almost despite myself, my unspoken prayers were answered.
I am, among all men, most richly blessed.
Yes, losing your hearing is scary. It scared my brother to find his eyesight failing. But I find him admirable because he is accomplishing much despite the handicap. Over the holidays, he gave a beautiful 15-minute talk at the church we gather with. He delivered it all from memory because the lighting was too poor for him to see -- including "reading" passages accurately. He also took a turn leading a song with the rest of the men there, which meant that he also did it mostly, if not entirely from memory.
If you lose friends over such a small point as hearing loss, I would wonder what kind of people those "friends" really were. But when a window closes, God opens the door to other opportunities -- ones you and I may not be able to guess at the moment. For example, I know your strength of knowledge in the Bible and I also know how few really strong Christians exist in the deaf community. It is possible that you could preach and teach the deaf in your community as no hearing person could possibly accomplish.
Even though you have partial hearing I would like to strongly recommend that you begin taking two sets of courses:
- First, take classes in learning to lip read. This will serve you well immediately. Whether your hearing aids are functioning correctly or not, you can greatly improve your ability to function in a speaking world if you can supplement what you can hear with lip reading.
- Second, take classes in American Sign Language. This will introduce you to the deaf community and prove to you that you are not alone and never will be. You will be one of the rare people who can bridge the gap between the hearing and the deaf.
Keep in mind that most hearing aids only amplify sound in a selective manner. This doesn't help all types of hearing loss. I don't know how many experts you have seen about your condition, but if you haven't seen a few specialists to determine what is happening to your hearing, any use of a hearing aid would become mostly guesswork. But just because a product doesn't work well in your situation does not lead to the conclusion that the product never works.
Also please understand that people are not mind-readers. When someone asks you what is in your ear, most of the time it means they want to understand what they need to do to make communication with you easier. Most people recognize a hearing aid, though they might be surprised to see it on someone as young as you. To ask about it is a "polite" way of introducing the topic so they can understand what they need to do. Do they need to talk louder? Do they need to talk at a certain pitch? Do they need to pronounce their words more distinctly? Do they need to face you so you can lip read? Instead of viewing inquiries as openings for teasing, see them as a chance to explain how they can help you understand them better. It won't be true of everyone -- there are a lot of bums in the world -- but it is a better way to see the world.
One more thing before I let you go. You are not going to lose all your friends because I'm going remain one -- and I know you are going to find that there are a lot more out there in the world. There are always options -- that is what life gives you. I want you to remember this one:
"For the living know that they will die; but the dead know nothing, and they have no more reward, for the memory of them is forgotten. Also their love, their hatred, and their envy have now perished; nevermore will they have a share In anything done under the sun. Go, eat your bread with joy, and drink your wine with a merry heart; for God has already accepted your works. Let your garments always be white, and let your head lack no oil. Live joyfully with the wife whom you love all the days of your vain life which He has given you under the sun, all your days of vanity; for that is your portion in life, and in the labor which you perform under the sun. Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might; for there is no work or device or knowledge or wisdom in the grave where you are going" (Ecclesiastes 9:5-10).
My name is Glenn, and I am Jeff's brother. He forwarded your e-mail to me and asked if I would respond. I am a gospel preacher, like Jeff, but I am going blind. Actually, the government tells me I am already blind. Let me tell you a bit about myself.
I was diagnosed with RP (retinitis pigmentosa) when I was only 8 years old. The disease often results in blindness by 20, sometimes it waits until 30, rarely sufferers can still see into their 40s, and once in a while, people maintain some vision their entire life. I am in my 40s and still have a bit of usable vision, so I guess I am one of the lucky ones.
I agree with you that God can still heal people today. If He couldn't, why do we pray for the sick? Of course, some don't pray for the sick, they pray for the doctors. But a lack of faith on man's part does not equal a lack of ability on God's part. Of course, saying God has the ability does not mean He must use the ability the way I think best. In II Corinthians 12, Paul refers to a thorn in the flesh he wished to be removed. But God did not remove it. God had a greater plan for Paul and was using Paul's infirmity. Paul said he chose to glory in his weakness.
Up until I was 33, I maintained enough vision to live an average life. I drove, I graduated from law school, and I even spent 7+ years as a missionary in Asia. Suddenly my vision started deteriorating. In the space of only a few weeks, I could see my field of vision narrowing, almost daily. I still remember the last time I drove a car. I was on my way to church, a 45-minute drive. I kept missing things, like seeing pedestrians or bicycles. By the time I got out of the car, I was a nervous wreck. I handed the keys to my niece and said I wasn't going to be driving again. I went to an eye doctor the next day, and he said, you'll be blind sometime in the next couple weeks or maybe a couple of months. I cried and asked why me? I had trouble sleeping. I was afraid to close my eyes, even during prayer because I thought I might not be able to see when I opened them.
I didn't know what was going to happen next in my life. I wondered how I would function without sight. My wife had never driven before. I got her started taking lessons. I checked with the state for programs to help me cope with my vision loss. I was amazed at how many programs the state had for people losing vision. They taught me to cane, supplied me with canes, taught me Braille, supplied me with a Braille Bible and a Braille machine. They bought me a laptop to use for notes and presentations, where I could adjust font sizes. They even supplied me with extra dark sunglasses and extra bright reading lamps and a desktop CRT unit to make reading easier. You can probably find similar programs for your situation. Learn Sign Language. The government may help with hearing aids, TTY machines, lights that flash when a phone rings or the doorbell is pushed, etc.
Despite all that help, I didn't want people to see me as blind. I refused for years to use my cane in public, or I used it in public, but only where no one who knew me would see it. I traveled a lot back then, and I recall people yelling at me in airports when I bumped into them. At Wal-mart or the mall, people said nasty things as I got in their way or refused to move when they approached. One day, I was in an airport that was packed with holiday travelers. I had gotten bumped several times and was feeling lost and thought, I wish they understood how hard it is for me. Then I remembered my cane (a collapsible one I had in my carry-on bag). I brought it out and flicked it open. I worried that people would still bump me or ridicule me, but instead, it was something like the parting of the Red Sea. Suddenly there was a path before me, and everyone hustled to get out of the way. When I was bumped there were apologies instead of insults.
What I realized is that a lot of people make it through life with disabilities. I have a friend who is deaf and a member of the church. She went to school, got her Ph.D. at a public university, and does social work concentrated on the deaf. If you'd like, I'll try to put you in contact with her.
I use my cane a lot more now. When I don't have it, I tell people my condition right upfront. When we have visitors at church I tell them. I have to remind people that certain actions don't help me (raising a hand during class, pointing at something). I make light of my disability, but I make sure I don't hide it. When playing a board game last week, I looked at the different color pieces and announced which color I needed so I could see what was happening. No one objected, they know my situation. When reading, I need extra light. If the only spot with enough light is taken, I explain my situation and ask for the lit spot. Usually, there isn't a problem.
Friends are going to stick by you through this difficulty. They aren't friends because of your ears, but because of what is between them. But they can't stick by you if you don't tell them what is going on. Tell them, I am going deaf, so I need you to speak louder. Use the same line for strangers. You won't have the white cane to give a visual clue as to your situation. You will have to wear your disability on your sleeve. But at the same time make light of it. People get scared when faced with the unknown. It isn't that they don't want to help, but they don't know how. When they forget to speak loudly, make it a joke: "Hey, that's a mighty soft voice you use when speaking to the deaf." Followed by a laugh to let them know it's alright. I remember one boy telling me I had the best sense of humor about my blindness.
I don't know why God hasn't removed your deafness. Perhaps He has a use for you in His kingdom that will be served well in your situation. You might be able to bring the gospel to a group of people that most gospel preachers can never reach. Look at your disability as an opportunity. Yes, it's not an opportunity you would have wanted, but life isn't about what is best for me, but what is best for God. Have you considered Job? I know it is cliche, but the lesson is still true. Like Job and his friends, we have a tendency to think everything is about us. God's answer still stands the test of time. Read His answer and His questions, not as God talking to Job about his suffering and his complaints, but read them as God answering you and questioning you. It did me a lot of good in putting my life back in perspective and carrying on.
I've made changes, but I still preach. My friends have learned to adapt, just as I have and we are still friends. Life is not over when one becomes disabled, life just changes course.
Feel free to write to me if you think I can help in some way.