Winnie the Pooh famously said, “If the person you are talking to doesn’t appear to be listening, be patient. It may simply be that he has a small piece of fluff in his ear.”
I’ve learned over the years that Winnie might be on to something. When someone won’t listen to you even though following your counsel would be to their advantage, it may be that their reticence is nothing more than a small piece of fluff in their ear. Or there may be another hindrance: Some folks find it hard to listen well because they’re broken and discouraged.
Moses said he spoke to the people of Israel but they didn’t listen because their spirits were broken and their lives were hard (Exodus 6:9). The word discouragement in the Hebrew text is literally “short of breath,” the result of their bitter enslavement in Egypt. That being the case, Israel’s reluctance to listen to Moses’s instruction called for understanding and compassion, not censure.
What should we do when others won’t listen? Winnie the Pooh’s words enshrine wisdom: “Be patient.” God says, “Love is patient, love is kind” (1 Corinthians 13:4); it’s willing to wait. He’s not finished with that individual. He’s working through their sorrow, our love, and our prayers. Perhaps, in His time, He’ll open their ears to hear. Just be patient.
What can you learn about your relationship with God from those who won’t listen to you? How do love and patience fit together in a loving relationship?
When God first promised to give Canaan to Abraham (Genesis 12:7), He also told him his descendants would be enslaved and mistreated in Egypt for four hundred years. But God promised He would deliver them and bring them into the promised land (15:13–16). Some seven hundred years later, God tasked Moses to carry out these two promises (Exodus 3:7–10) and said He would personally fulfill them: “I will free you from being slaves” and “I will bring you to the land” (6:6, 8).