Pastoral Perspectives

What I Missed When I Lost My Voice

Recently, it took me almost a week to recover from a bad bout of cough and sore throat, which was something much longer than usual. During that period of time when I lost my voice, it dawned upon me that there were several things that I missed and had taken for granted.

The first on the list is my ability to read aloud with ease the storybooks that my 2 years old daughter, Sophia would like me to read to her. While my “multi-ability and multi-tasking” wife is the one who does most of the child-minding, reading to Sophia is of the few things that I can do and enjoy spending time with her in. I can still remember the look of disappointment on Sophia’s face when I pointed to my throat and tried to explain to her why I was having difficulty in reading. Although I attempted, I guessed my voice must have sounded strained and different as Sophia eventually lost interest and moved on to other things.

I must admit that this was a rather humbling, ego-bursting moment. After all, I think that most fathers would desire their daughters to regard them as their heroes. But when I lost my voice, I felt somewhat “useless” since I could not carry out this simple task of reading or fix the problem as quickly as possible for her sake. However, as I reflected further, I was reminded that as an earthly father, there will always be things that I cannot do and situations that I cannot fix.

It is important that I learn to rest in the truth that God has never intended earthly fathers to fix all the problems for their loved ones. While God has called us to love our families and to provide for them, we can be thankful that fatherhood does not include eradicating suffering and trying to spare our loved ones from whatever pains that life may bring. Imagine, what a burden it would be if it was so!

Instead, parents are to walk closely with God and raise their children in the ways of the Lord (Deut 6:4-9, Prov 22:6). Furthermore, we are to be mindful of how we are reflecting the nature of our Heavenly Father through the way we relate with our loved ones. If we do not want our children to perceive God as distant, harsh or critical, we need to be watchful and seek God’s grace to help us guard against behaving in such a manner towards them (Eph 6:4). What a tremendous privilege we have that God has called earthly fathers to be image-bearers of the Heavenly Father even as we come to Him as his beloved child!

Another thing I missed when I lost my voice was the ability to sing aloud during our worship service. Somehow, it is just not the same to be mouthing the lyrics compared to joining with the rest of the congregation in singing. As much as God sees our hearts, participating in congregational singing is a vital, outward expression of our worship on Sundays. In the Bible, we see that each time Israel or the Christians gather in worship, no one would be singing under their breath. I fear that we are missing the point and giving poor excuses if we associate singing aloud with those who are extroverted or more Charismatic, are embarrassed by our tonal qualities or are unduly concerned that we may distract the worshipper next to us.

On a more practical note, the manner in which we participate in congregational singing has implications on how we pass down our faith to the next generation. I cannot imagine what goes through the minds of the children who join us in service if the people around them are barely audible. How will Sophia know whether we are singing it for real and meaning every word if our joy in our Saviour is hardly visible? While we are not to “fake” anything and to be man-centered, surely the benefits and blessings that singing aloud brings should encourage us to heartily offer our praises and thanksgiving to God. Indeed, let us sing strong because that is what God seeks (Ps 98:4) even as we worship in spirit and in truth.

Finally, in case some are wondering, I do miss talking to my wife and recounting my thoughts and experiences at the end of a day. We probably also squabbled less since I would not able to argue my way out. More importantly, I am reminded that even when I have lost my voice, it is really God’s grace that sustains my marriage and enables our loving.