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March 13, 2014

Don’t Hide from Hardship

A devastating diagnosis showed me how God uses weakness


I wept as I heard the diagnosis four years ago: “You are losing your hearing.”

Questions about my job, relationships, and life in general permeated my brain. Every “what if” plowed over me, and they were mowing me down quickly. Everything seemed a blur that day. But God spoke to me in a way I was sure to hear.

I’d spent eight years in the classroom, and both the doctor and I were stunned that I had done so without complication. The doctor stated, “Your brain adjusted to your loss. Although you couldn’t hear, your brain taught you to read lips and monitor body language so that you believed you were hearing what was happening.” It still amazes me that my brain knew to do that. But it shouldn’t be a shock. God did not create us as simple beings. He created us to know him, reflect him, and hear him. He created us to crave him.

Last fall I sat among some of the greatest leaders in Christian counseling at the American Association of Christian Counselors World Conference. There was a dominant theme throughout the conference: Our brains are wired for God. We crave Christ and our brains know it. As I listened to these speakers and presenters, I couldn’t help but be drawn back to my hearing diagnosis and the journey I have been on the past four years. Although I now wear hearing aids, the frustration of not being able to hear is still fully present. But what I have come to recognize is that God wired my brain to work in such a way that I would understand that his grace is all I need and that the voice of Lord will rise above everything (2 Corinthians 12:8-10; Psalm 29:3-5). In the midst of my pain, he began to show me how my hearing was a human weakness but a conduit for his supernatural strength.

As I reflected on the hearing diagnosis, I evaluated how God’s hand has been ever present through this weakness. While I am no longer in the teaching profession, God has given me the opportunity to flourish in my first love: ministry. I currently work at a church where I counsel others and help people connect through serving and small groups.

Although I struggled with accepting this call because of my weakness, God has shown me how he uses it. Due to my hearing loss and my brain’s adjustment to a pattern of lip reading and monitoring body language, I am constantly aware of the atmosphere of a given environment as well as the mood of individuals. Whether in an individual counseling session or a small group, God’s use of my weakness helps me monitor individuals and notice things that I may not if not for my loss. I actually hear people better now than with my normal hearing because God allows me to hear more than just a person’s words. He allows me to see hurt in a new way.

This weakness has also required me to focus when someone is talking to me. I cannot play on my technology or have my back turned while multi-tasking and actually concentrate on someone’s words. I must look at the person and engage so I can pick up every word. These moments are another way God reminds me, “My power works best in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9).

Leaders often have difficulty facing “weakness.” We do not want to embrace its reality. I hid from the reality of what was happening to me and wanted no one even to know I wore hearing aids. Maybe you are hiding from your weakness. You don’t want anyone to know you battle depression. You keep people at a distance because you don’t want to be reminded of your physical ailment. The list could go on and on. Because we view our weakness in a negative light of imperfection, we beg for its removal. Maybe we become angry or bitter with God, even as Christian leaders. What would happen if instead we viewed our weakness through perfection: through Christ? Our weakness is not a surprise to God. He is made perfect through our weakness. His glory is reflected, not our weakness.

This part of my journey has enabled me to be amazed at God’s design of us. There is no accident to our creation. He has fearfully and wonderfully made us, crafted us with perfection. His plan is perfect, and we will reflect his glory. Like Paul, I have begged for this weakness to be removed. But also, like Paul, I “take pleasure in my weaknesses...For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:10).

Peri Gilbert is the life group coordinator at The Simple Church in Bossier City, Louisiana.

Related Tags: brokenness, God's will, humility, suffering, weakness


Believing that there are no coincidences in God's world, your message stopped me dead in my tracks. I to have a hearing loss. It is difficult to be in a crowd especially a noisy crowd. I lead a Bible study and some of our members are soft spoken so I cannot share their prayers. We studied Moses this week. He made excuses for his communication difficulties. Wonder if I am guilty of the same... Maybe it is time to get those TV ears and to go check out the cost of hearing aids. Maybe it is not as expensive as I thought. May His glory be reflected in whatever the outcome. Thanks.

Thak you, Lynette, for sharing about your hearing loss! God is and will continue to use you! Yes, look into hearing aids. They really have helped me. They don't make my hearing perfect, but they certainly help!

Thank you for sharing. I too have a hearing loss and I also was at the AACC world conference. I just overcame wearing my hearing aids and being okay with people knowing I wear them. It so much better now that I am okay with it. But I do struggle in settings where the background noise is loud. I was in a class yesterday struggling to hear every word the professor was sharing but the guy behind me was shuffling his papers and it was so loud it hurt my ears. It is so frustrating but God is good, so good to help me just rely on Him. Thank you again for sharing your story.

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