One of my greatest fears is losing my hearing. I am a musician, a music composer, and a live sound engineer. Both by hobby and trade, my ears are needed at a high level of precision and health. I test my hearing sometimes with a tone generator and am dismayed to find the frequencies above 10 khz slowly fading away. Sometimes I’m not sure if I can really hear anything above 15 khz. It can be hard to tell. I check the SPL around me frequently either on my phone or on an actual meter as I go about my day, and I have been looking for a good audiologist in my area so I can get a professional exam and custom-fitted high fidelity ear plugs. In quiet places, the tinnitus in my ears is loud and polyphonic. I hear it especially when I lie in bed.
There is of course a legitimate concern one should have for one’s health and for taking care of one’s body in general. Since I rely on my ears so much for work and for serving at church (not to mention social interaction and all the minutiae of life), there are reasonable measures to take to extend my usefulness in these areas and to protect the health of my ears.
The problem is that in a perversion of legitimate concern I find myself prone to sinful fear at times and perhaps in danger of an obsession with protecting my hearing. It is not a runaway fear as of yet—probably no one would have guessed that I have it—but I can see it going that direction eventually if I do not guard my heart in the truth.
Now in all likelihood, the hearing loss I experience in my lifetime will not be unusual or debilitating at all. Everybody loses the frequencies that I am losing. It’s no big deal. I know that. In fact, I bet my hearing is better than that of most people my age. When fears run against facts and probabilities, a reality check like this can be helpful. God in his providence has arranged our ears to degrade in a certain predictable way in general, and it is helpful to be reminded of that. However, as a Christian, I must turn my thinking beyond “the things which are seen” and temporal. Even unbelievers can comfort each other’s fears with a glance at God’s creation and the probabilities built into it, but I have something far greater to rest my heart in: the eternal truths of God’s word, a spiritual reality check.
So in those moments of sinful fear as I lie in bed listening to the ringing in my ears, I turn my mind to 2 Corinthians 4:16-18:
Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.2 Corinthians 4:16-18 (NASB)
This world is not my home and this body is destined to decay and die. Some measure of hearing loss is inevitable along with many other bodily weaknesses and failures. That is God’s righteous judgment against a world full of sinners like me; I deserve no better, yet he gives me hope.
My hope is not in perfect health or the enjoyment of my hobbies or the continuation of my audio-visual career or even the convenience of normal social interaction, but my hope is completely in Jesus Christ and the grace to come (1 Peter 1:13-16). One day he will resurrect my dying body with its decaying ears. When my sinful flesh is forever gone, my five senses will at last be perfect in function and exclusively sanctified for the praise of his glory.
Here in this life as in the next (Matt. 6:10), I am also to sanctify myself for the Master’s service. While it is good for me to take reasonable measures to protect my health as I see fit, I need not fear and fret over such things (or forgo rock concerts necessarily). So what if I lose a few thousand frequencies at the extremities of my range, as everyone does! So what if I lose every frequency! He will resurrect my ears one day, and in the meantime, I am to trust him and serve him however he sees fit. I am to do this because it is my duty to him as his unworthy slave (Luke 17:7-10), because my joy is found in walking by the Spirit (Gal. 5:22), because it is a testimony to the world of the hope and strength I have in him (1 Peter 3:15), and because it is a testimony to other believers of the same (1 Peter 4:11). The members of my body are to be presented to God as instruments of righteousness and not as instruments of a fleshly, fear-driven idol (Rom. 6:12-14).
To lose my hearing is only a momentary affliction, and it has a glorious purpose in God’s sovereign plans. Though my outer man decays, my inner man is renewed day by day as I put to death my fears and set my mind on eternal things. Thank the Lord for medical technology that I may avail myself of for my health, but thank the Lord above all for the hope I have in Christ, which is there regardless and will never fade away.