At a local children’s Christmas program this week a group of young children took their positions in front of the audience and began to sing their song and make the hand motions that went along with it. Suddenly, a little girl in the front of the group pointed into the audience and squealed, “That’s my daddy!” She began to wiggle, dance around and laugh with joy repeating, “My daddy’s here!” The other children, as their song continued, would sneak peeks of puzzlement at her. She remained unfazed. In the sea of faces she’d seen her daddy; he’d shown up and her pleasure was unfettered. Everything else was momentarily eclipsed by the wonder of seeing her daddy.
In the book of Job, the protagonist, Job, was suffering. Not only was he suffering loss of livelihood, loss of loved ones and then extreme physical affliction, but he was suffering the well-intentioned, yet very foolish advice of his friends as they tried to “fix” his situation. And then, in chapter 38, Job becomes aware of God’s presence. Suddenly, nothing else matters. Job is filled with awe beyond all comprehension; he says, “…but now my eye sees you”! (Job 42:5)
Sometimes life is more like a bowl of pits instead of cherries. I cannot fathom the extreme stress of Christians living in Sudan, Nigeria, Iraq and other places where nothing and nowhere is safe. Friends all around are suffering illness, pain or loss. I cannot presume to know anything at all about their experiences.
But I can pray. I can pray for wisdom to know when it is appropriate to rejoice and when it is appropriate to weep with my friends. I can pray for our Heavenly Father to reveal himself in the midst of these most difficult circumstances. I can pray for moments of unfettered joy that call out, “That’s my daddy! My daddy’s here!” Because the wonder of Christmas is that he came; He’s here!
Deuteronomy 4:7 (NRSV)
7For what other great nation has a god so near to it as the Lord our God is whenever we call to him?
Psalm 139:7-12 (NRSV)
7 Where can I go from your spirit?
Or where can I flee from your presence?
8 If I ascend to heaven, you are there;
if I make my bed in Sheol, you are there.
9 If I take the wings of the morning
and settle at the farthest limits of the sea,
10 even there your hand shall lead me,
and your right hand shall hold me fast.
11 If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me,
and the light around me become night,”
12 even the darkness is not dark to you;
the night is as bright as the day,
for darkness is as light to you.