Larry King recently aired his last show after 25 years. I’ve wondered what made him such a long-standing success. Even he has said that all he’s done is ask questions, but I think that's only part of it.
I think what’s made Larry King and the show so well-received is that he listens. He doesn’t gab, he doesn’t try to steal the limelight; he simply asks a question and then he listens. And that allows the guest to pour out their heart, and we, then, have a chance to hear it.
Jesus is a good listener, too. I think about the time He passed by the pool at the Sheep Gate in Jerusalem where many of the sick went, believing that if they were the first to step into the waters when they were stirred by an angel, they would be healed.
Scripture says that a great multitude of people who were sick, blind, lame and withered lay near the pool, and yet Jesus apparently spoke to only one--a man who had been ill for 38 years. Why did Jesus choose him out of the rest? I believe it’s because Jesus listened to his heart. Jesus knew without a word that this man had laid there for a very long time. He knew that he truly desired to be healed and that he had no one else to help him.
And so He asked him, “Do you desire to be made whole?”
And the man answered, “Sir, when the water is troubled, I have no one to put me into the pool. But while I am coming, another steps down before me.”
Jesus heard his heart--that is, He comprehended the pain and longing in this man’s heart--and He had compassion on him and said to him, “Rise, take up your bed and walk.” And he did. (John 5:2-9)
Because Jesus slowed down and listened, a man was healed.
We live in a very noisy and busy world with many hurting people. A lot of people talk, but not many listen. I can’t tell you how many times someone has walked past me, asked me how I was doing, and barely slowed down long enough to hear the answer. Many of those times I was hurting and needed a friend. It’s not their fault; I don’t blame them. We all get caught up in our noisy, busy worlds and we forget to listen.
What’s more, we forget to really hear. We forget to listen with real compassion and empathy.
How many hurting people do we pass by every day? How many of those people are members our very own family, whether by blood or by Spirit? Do we hear the struggle in their words or the pain in their voice?