I woke up without a voice this morning. I got through Sunday in spite of some throat irritation, but this morning I've been unable to talk. My voice is completely gone. I know we take the ability to speak for granted considering my original intentions for today.
- I was going to the bank to deposit my check, but how can I inform the the teller how I want my cash back?
- I was going to check out the local seminary and see how we might mutually benefit one another. I was also going to check the status of the church's account at the office supply store. But how can I ask any questions if I can't talk?
- I was going to call the cable company and set up a church e-mail account. But I can't call anyone if I cannot speak. This means I can't call to check up on the sick or to set up any visits or lunches. If I went to see someone I could not talk to them anyway.
- I was going out for lunch today, but how can I place an order?
Of course I can still whisper, but just barely. Any attempt to talk, or even swallow, brings a stabbing throat pain--although not overly severe. I suppose I have some kind of virus since I awoke with sinus trouble and a cough as well. So I'll just have to be patient and maybe focus on my studies for now.
But isn't the gift of language amazing? Some theologians insist that our ability for rational communication is part of what it means to be created in God's image. It's part of what separates us from the animals. While animals can communicate with barks, growls, mating calls, and warning cries, only humans can communicate on a sophisticated level that includes language.
Speech is so powerful that many Scriptures warn against its misuse due to the damage it can cause. Speech is intended to encourage. But it has the power to either build up or tear down. Speech shapes our perception of reality as well as our self-perception. Speech can even create reality. God confused language when humans thought of themselves too highly at Babel. But he made language intelligible at Pentecost so people might humble themselves before Christ.
Our God is the ultimate communicator. He spoke creation into existence. In the beginning was the Word. Jesus is the Word personified--God's ultimate revelation to us--divine speech in-the-flesh.
Among Jesus' miracles was his curing of those who were mute (Matt. 9:33; 12:22; 15:30-31; Mark 7:37). I never gave that much thought until now. I marveled at the miraculous restoration of sight to the blind and of hearing to the deaf. How terrible it would be if one could not see or hear. But I realize now that the inability to speak can be quite the inconvenience. I can't imagine going through life that way. But Jesus will return and all such afafflictions will be ultimately healed forever. Creation will be restored to its original state.