Lessons Learned From Losing My Voice

This past week I was hit with a bout of laryngitis. Though I felt well in every other way I was unable to make more than a whisper come out of my mouth. For a social person like me it was quite difficult to go so long without talking! I began to think a bit more about how I use my voice. If I am honest many things I talk about are of little consequence. I talk to fill empty space. With the laryngitis I was forced to decide what was really worth saying. My ultimate goal was to save my voice so that I could teach class on Wednesday evening. My brief 2-day bout of silence made me think of a prophet of God who went much longer without talking (Luke 1:1-25).

            It had been nearly 400 years since God had spoken through prophets when Zacharias went into the temple. He was from the tribe of Levi and it was his family’s turn to offer the necessary incense. While there he was shocked to see an angel. In fact he was so terrified that the angel had to reassure him that he was there to bring good news. The Bible informs us that both Zacharias and his wife Elizabeth were aged and had been unable to have children. The good news from the angel was that his prayers for having a child were finally being answered. He was told that this child would be the one promised to prepare the people for their coming savior. Zacharias was understandably a bit skeptical. As proof the angel said that he would be unable to speak until all of these promises were fulfilled.

            I have often wondered what this time period was like for Zacharias. The text says that everyone recognized he had seen a vision, but even though he tried to communicate with signs they didn’t quite grasp it. I imagine if I were him I would be anxious to discuss these things with everyone, but most importantly with my wife. He had 9 months of silence as they waited for God’s promises to be fulfilled. Then came the happy day when their son was born. Zacharias still couldn’t talk! It was Jewish law that on the 8th day a baby boy was circumcised. This is also traditionally when the child was named. The very first thing Zacharias said was, “His name is John.” Then he began to openly praise God. Can you imagine the joy in his voice as he spoke those words? He talked not about the weather or politics but of God and the Gospel. He used all his first words to glorify the one who had given him such a blessing.

            It is doubtful that any of us will have 9 months of being unable to speak. That is not the comparison I want to make. However every day each of us has a choice about what kinds of words come out of our mouth. Do we glorify God? Do we share the Gospel? Do we encourage and edify? Are we kind, positive, and thoughtful? Or do we talk all about ourselves? Do we talk only of worldly things that have no lasting value? Worse yet, do we waste time saying things that are crude and dirty or that reflect poorly on God? I recognize that it is no easy task. In James 3:1-12 we are told that controlling the tongue is perhaps the most difficult part of being a Christian. One thing is for sure after losing my voice, at least for the next little while here, I have learned to choose my words more carefully. Make every word count to the glory of God.