It gets better. For every pair of headphones you buy, LSTN helps restore hearing to a person in need through the Starkey Hearing Foundation. One pair of headphones means one pair of hearing aids. The LSTN website tells stories of people who got to hear because someone chose LSTN headphones over other brands. One story is that of Maria. Her mother experienced a difficult labor giving birth to her. Because of the trauma and asphyxia during delivery, Maria was born hearing impaired.
For eighteen years she lived in a soundless world. She could not hear her friends laughing. She could not hear birds singing. Mostly she could not hear the voice of her mother. Maria had lived eighteen years in silence.
The Jewish people had lived 400 years in silence. They had not heard God's voice in the time between Malachi and Matthew. A page or two in your Bible that separates the close of the Old Testament and the opening of the New covers 400 years. No new speaking from God. No new writings of his words. No new Scripture for God's people. For 400 years.
Silence can be excruciating. The 'anechoic chamber' at Orfield Laboratories in South Minneapolis is 99.0% sound absorbent and holds the Guinness World Record as the world's quietest place. The longest anyone has stayed in the chamber is 45 minutes.
On the other hand, silence can prepare you for something wonderful. Silence can prepare us to listen. The founder of Orfield Laboratories says, "When it's quiet, ears will adapt. The quieter the room, the more things you hear." Silence can heighten our anticipation of what we will hear when the silence is broken.
And this silence was broken! Luke tells the story of a night that most likely was in April, the time the shepherds would be out in the fields at night watching their sheep. A young couple has made their way to Bethlehem to register for the census. They can't find a place to stay, so they are offered a place where animals would shelter from the elements, probably a small cave in the side of a hill outside of town. Although the city was bustling with the census crowd, the outskirts of the village was quiet.
Luke doesn't give us too many details. He merely says:
While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son (Luke 2:6-7).The silence was broken by the cry of a newborn child. And then an angel announces good news and there's a multitude of the heavenly host breaking the silence with singing.
Suddenly, after 400 years, there are words all around because maybe, just maybe, God's people are now so hungry to hear from him that they will truly listen.
And who are the first ones who hear from God about this? Those who are waiting in silence — in the quiet of the night, out in the field with their flocks, whose ears have been prepared to listen (Luke 2:8-15).
Christmas can be a silent time for many.
Silence. You haven't heard from your relatives in a while.
Silence. The doctor met with you. This will be your first Christmas season with the cancer.
Silence. This may be your first Christmas alone because someone left.
Silence. You may be out of a job. Worried about a job. Not sure how you'll pay next month's rent.
So here's the Christmas story for you. The silent night is broken.
God hasn't forgotten you. He came as a baby and his name is Immanuel — God with us.
God's not mad at you. The baby's name is Jesus — God saves.
Bridget Hilton, one of the founders of LSTN, was the fortunate one to fit Maria for her hearing aids that were made possible by someone's purchase of a set of headphones. She got to see the look on Maria's face when she heard her mother's voice for the first time.
What did she hear? The first words she heard from her mother were the words you would expect a mother to say: "I love you." Eighteen years of silence prepared her to hear the greatest words a loving parent could ever say to her child!
Your silence can prepare you to hear from your Father. His words are the same:
"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son..." (John 3:16).
May you listen well this Christmas season.