Situations like that do exist, I know, because that was my situation last Sunday morning. Then Sunday evening someone asked me if I would like to receive the gift of better hearing. I said yes, but if it were one or the other I would rather receive the gift of wisdom goodness and generosity than the gift of better hearing.
What is the background for my conviction that the gift of wisdom goodness and generosity is a better gift than the gift of better hearing? As you might expect, the conviction is rooted somewhere in the Bible.
First I looked up references to deafness in the Bible. As early as the book of Exodus (chapter four) we find Moses making excuses why God should get someone else to lead His people out of the slavery of Egypt. Moses claims he is handicapped in that he is "slow of speech and tongue". God sees no weight in Moses' excuse ( v. 10). "Who gives one man speech and makes another deaf and dumb? Or who gives sight and makes another blind? Is is not I, the Lord?" God takes full responsibility for who can see color and who can hear sound.
Sight and hearing are God's design. For those who hear and see, it is God's gift to them. This is true of all sight and of all hearing. They are gifts that are well designed. They are precious.
So precious are they, when God wanted to express the value and beauty of what God would do in sending a redeemer to bring His people back from sin, He inspired His prophets to use the image of healing the blind and the deaf to symbolize what would happen when those who believe would see and accept the will of the Lord and hear and understand His plan for creation and for eternity. (cf. Is. 29: 18 - 20; 35: 4,5).
Each day in our morning newspaper and each evening in our world news we see ample evidence of the fact there are many problems and much unhappiness and difficulties in our current world and in the lives of individuals near and far. God knows it all, better than we. "Who gives one man speech and makes another deaf and dumb?...Is it not I, the Lord?"
But physical deafness and physical blindness in the Bible are symbols of spiritual effects of sin. God has an answer for the problem of physical evil. We have to answer for sin. But even in the face and fact of sin God is present. In the very beginning when the first sin was made God promised to come to take it away. (Gen. 3: 15).
The promise was given again and again. It was clarified in various images of conquering physical evil as a sign of what would happen when sin was forgiven and freedom from it won. We have been using these promises in our Advent readings . ( Is 2: 1 - 5; 11: 1 - 10; 7, 10 - 14). Then at a certain moment of history all God's promises were fulfilled and given a personal name. Jesus was born. In Him all God's promises are fulfilled. He is the perfect YES to the Father's will, the perfect divine-human achievement of the Father's plan.
Jesus heals the blind and the deaf not so much so that people could hear sound and see color but that they would be touched by God and know God's power and love. The sounds and colors we see and hear are passing. The power and love of God are eternal. It takes wisdom to know this, goodness to accept it, and generoity to give it to others. That is why if I had the choice, I would rather receive the gift of wisdom goodness and generosity than the gift of better hearing.
As we celebrate the birth of Jesus this year may it be an occasion for us all to appreciate more clearly and deeply the identity of Jesus as the fulfillment of all God's promises, to each of us individually and to all of us throughout the world, promises of peace, justice,mercy, goodness, eternal happiness, and love. Only in Jesus are these promises perfectly fulfilled. United to Him they are fulfilled in us. That is the Father's plan. What tremendous wisdom, goodness, and generosity! It is the gift of Christmas! Come. Lord Jesus !