Two things happened yesterday that got me to thinking about misunderstandings. More to the point, not hearing exactly what is being said; hearing something that puts a whole new meaning on what you are truly trying to convey.
The first was on a fixer-up program I like to watch. This family fixes up old camps and cabins next to beautiful lakes. I am especially fond of the before and after shots at the very end of the program. Anyway, I heard one of the men say, “Put me in cold. I’m ready to play.”
The conversation leading up to the phrase and away from that phrase is not important.
What is important is he was misquoting (I am quite certain) from a song by John Fogerty, but the lyrics are “put me in coach. I’m ready to play.” It caught my attention because that was a song I used to play when I was in radio. For those not familiar it is the song Centerfield, and it is all about baseball!
Song lyrics are often misunderstood. Here are a couple of other examples.
Heard: I can see clearly now, Lorraine is gone. Actual lyrics: I can see clearly now; the rain is gone.
Heard: There’s a bathroom on the right Actual lyrics: There’s a bad moon on the rise.
Heard: She’s a good girl. Loves her llama. Loves Cheez-its and America too. Actual: She’s a good girl. Loves her mama. Loves Jesus and America too.
I used to sing in a rock and roll band. I invited a co-worker and his wife to join us, as the band was playing at a local establishment on the river.
After one set, he came up to me and said, ‘hey on the song you were singing…what were you saying.?”
Long story short, I had misheard a word, we had practiced it that way, and then proudly delivered it to the room of people. Oh, how he laughed! (I do want to point out this was before the internet. It is so easy to find things now, but back then, not so much. I would burn a song to CD at work. Take it home and, with pad and pen, listen to the song, writing down the lyrics. That’s how you did it!
The second was a conversation I had with my two gorgeous granddaughters last night after dinner. I had been retelling of a time when their grandpa and I had planned a lovely, romantic dinner at the Historic Wolf Creek Inn, in Wolf Creek, Oregon.
I went into great detail telling them how the dark wood room was dimly lit except for candles burning on the small tables. How the tables were set with beautiful red table cloths with white cloth napkins and beautiful place settings. How the wait-staff was dressed in black and how professional they were. I told them how soft music played in the background, how wonderful our meal was and how somewhere in there another couple was seated next to us. It was apparent they were on a date as well.
The evening was really perfect. The food was wonderful and as our dessert arrived, so did the meals for the couple seated next to us. They had ordered lobster.
Now, I’m sure if lobster is fresh it doesn’t stink, or does it? I really don’t know. What I do know is the odor that wafted quickly from their table to ours instantly changed my mood. It was horrible. I could feel my gag reflex waking up. It stunk so bad! I leaned over to Wendell and said, “honey, I have to leave, now!” And with that, I stood, grabbed my purse, and took my dessert to the parlor. Wendell quickly followed and we enjoyed 30 minutes or so sitting next to the fire in that historic place.
It was at some point in my description of how horrible that lobster smelled, when my youngest granddaughter leaned forward and asked, “Wait. Who are you talking about?”
I looked at her confused face, myself now becoming confused. I replied, “Not 'who' honey. I was talking about the stinky lobster.” She laughed and said, “Oh I thought you were talking about “so-and-so”.”
If she had not asked that question, she would have left that meal thinking I was talking very badly about someone she knew.
Do you see how quickly words can be misunderstood? Equally quick is how fast misunderstandings turn to disappointments.
I have discovered the Bible does not say a lot about misunderstandings as far as how to handle them. But there are stories of people who were misunderstood.
Let’s look at the story of Hannah in 1 Samuel chapter 1.
Hannah had great disappointment sprinkled with much misunderstanding.
Hannah longed for a baby. I do not know what it is like to want a child and not be able to have a child; Hannah did. And in her brokenness and in her pain, she reached out to God.
The Bible says she presented herself before the Lord early in the morning, weeping, praying, and pleading her case. But even this action is misunderstood.
She is misunderstood by her husband, and when she seeks refuge at church, she is misunderstood there as well.
“There once was a man who lived in Ramathaim…His name was Elkanah…He had two wives. The first was Hannah; the second was Peninnah. Peninnah had children; Hannah did not.
Every year this man went from his hometown up to Shiloh to worship and offer a sacrifice...When Elkanah sacrificed, he passed helpings from the sacrificial meal around to his wife Peninnah and all her children, but he always gave an especially generous helping to Hannah because he loved her so much, and because God had not given her children. But her rival wife taunted her cruelly, rubbing it in and never letting her forget that God had not given her children. This went on year after year. Every time she went to the sanctuary of God she could expect to be taunted. Hannah was reduced to tears and had no appetite. Her husband Elkanah said, “Oh, Hannah, why are you crying? Why aren’t you eating? And why are you so upset? Am I not of more worth to you than ten sons?”
So Hannah ate. Then she pulled herself together, slipped away quietly, and entered the sanctuary. The priest Eli was on duty at the entrance to God’s Temple in the customary seat. Crushed in soul, Hannah prayed to Godand cried and cried—inconsolably.
Then she made a vow:
Oh, God-of-the-Angel-Armies, If you’ll take a good, hard look at my pain, If you’ll quit neglecting me and go into action for me By giving me a son, I’ll give him completely, unreservedly to you. I’ll set him apart for a life of holy discipline.
It so happened that as she continued in prayer before God, Eli was watching her closely. Hannah was praying in her heart, silently. Her lips moved, but no sound was heard. Eli jumped to the conclusion that she was drunk. He approached her and said, “You’re drunk! How long do you plan to keep this up? Sober up, woman!”
Hannah said, “Oh no, sir—please! I’m a woman brokenhearted. I haven’t been drinking. Not a drop of wine or beer. The only thing I’ve been pouring out is my heart, pouring it out to God. Don’t for a minute think I’m a bad woman. It’s because I’m so desperately unhappy and in such pain that I’ve stayed here so long.” - 1 Samuel 1:1-16 The Message
Her husband did not understand her, asking, “why are you crying? Why aren’t you eating? why are you so upset? Am I not good enough for you?”
Her priest did not understand her, accusing her of being drunk and demanding she sober up.
This poor woman’s heart. She is verbally abused by the second wife, taunted for not having her own children and she is misunderstood at every turn. Can you feel her heart? It is filled with pain. Will her God understand her?
Well, Eli told her “Go in peace. And may the God of Israel give you what you have asked of him.”
“Think well of me—and pray for me!” she said, and went her way. Then she ate heartily, her face radiant.
Up before dawn, they worshiped God and returned home to Ramah. Elkanah slept with Hannah his wife, and God began making the necessary arrangements in response to what she had asked.
Before the year was out, Hannah had conceived and given birth to a son. She named him Samuel, explaining, “I asked God for him.”
When Elkanah next took his family on their annual trip to Shiloh to worship God, offering sacrifices and keeping his vow, Hannah didn’t go. She told her husband, “After the child is weaned, I’ll bring him myself and present him before God—and that’s where he’ll stay, for good.”
Elkanah said to his wife, “Do what you think is best. Stay home until you have weaned him. Yes! Let God complete what he has begun!”
So she did. She stayed home and nursed her son until she had weaned him. Then she took him up to Shiloh, bringing also the makings of a generous sacrificial meal—a prize bull, flour, and wine. The child was so young to be sent off!
They first butchered the bull, then brought the child to Eli. Hannah said, “Excuse me, sir. Would you believe that I’m the very woman who was standing before you at this very spot, praying to God? I prayed for this child, and God gave me what I asked for. And now I have dedicated him to God. He’s dedicated to God for life.” Then and there, they worshiped God.” 1 Samuel 1:17-28 The Message
How did Hannah handle disappointment and being misunderstood? she took it to God.
My desk calendar for this morning reads, “Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” Isaiah 40:31 NIV
Keep your hope in the Lord. Take your hurts to Him. Your disappointment plus your hope in the Lord equals healing. Keep your hope in Jesus.
by Jeanette Stark – Tuesday, January 3, 2023