Tiny Hand of God
Our daughter and her husband are expecting their first baby, and our seventh grandbaby, in early May. She went for her twenty-week ultrasound yesterday and brought over the pictures.
There was one that stood out from the others. A tiny hand. (See below)
She said it reminded her of God’s hand in the Michelangelo painting The Creation of Adam. (See above) I’d have to agree! What a moment of joy I had with her entertaining the thought of God’s hand in the creation of this little hand.
Joy is the focus this third week of Advent. Our conversations at Firstfruits centered around joy as we studied the readings for this coming Sunday, Gaudete Sunday, as it is called.
Joy is different than happiness. Happiness is transient and dependent on circumstances. Happiness comes and goes. Joy is permanent, at least it can be.
Where God is, joy is.
So why don’t we feel that joy that is available to us always, even in suffering? We came to the conclusion that so often we sabotage this joy that is present all around us.
Often joy comes on the tail of sacrifice. Great joy is experienced when we put others’ needs and wants ahead of our own. Ask any mom or dad of a young child. Ask any caregiver. Ask any teacher. But we can tend to focus on the sacrifice and not on the joy. Our egos and our need for things to be fair lead us to resentment rather than joy. When we do reach outside of ourselves and tend to those in need, so often there are tender and otherwise unnoticed moments of pure joy.
Often joy comes on the tail of suffering, and who wants to suffer? Our first course of action when we are suffering is to alleviate it as soon as possible and with any means available. But if we can see the sad and fearful times as an invitation to let God in, then we find that His presence brings with it a peaceful joy that permeates the hurt and scared places.
Often joy comes on the tail of surrender. We want to hang on to whatever control we think we have and do things our way, but if we can wave the white flag and open wide the door of our will, and our control to God, along comes a freedom and with it that joy.
When we let God in, we let joy in.
But sometimes, when we least expect it, God just lets himself in and we are ambushed by the joy that accompanies His presence in our lives. Sometimes in the form of a tiny, little hand.
Sometimes in the form of a tiny little babe in a manger.