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Signposts: Daily Devotions

Written by Susan Hanson

Friday, December 24

"This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger." Suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying, "Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors!"
—Luke 2:12-14

Nostradamus was hardly the first soothsayer to predict the end of the world. As long ago as 2800 B.C., an Assyrian prophet supposedly etched these words on a clay tablet: “The Earth is degenerating today. Bribery and corruption abound. Children no longer obey their parents, every man wants to write a book, and it is evident that the end of the world is fast approaching.”

More than 4500 years later, the Blessed Rembordt was said to announce, “God will punish the world when men have devised marvelous inventions that will lead them to forgetting God. They will have horseless carriages, and they will fly like birds.”

Regardless of the era, people have also looked to events such as wars, famines, and even scientific breakthroughs as indicators that the earth is in its final days. Natural phenomena, too—earthquakes, comets, solar eclipses—have been seen as ominous portents of the end.

In short, we humans like to read deep meaning into the dramatic events in our lives. That’s understandable, of course, but the converse is also true: Other signs, less spectacular perhaps, we disregard or simply fail to see.

Ironically, when the angel came to the shepherds to announce the birth of the Christ, he didn’t tell them to look for anything grand. No meteor shower, no fire from heaven, no shaking of the earth—only a baby, wrapped in cloth and lying in a feed trough full of hay. “The Lord God is subtle,” Albert Einstein once remarked. The signs we seek are as close as our very breath.

O God, help me to remember that even in the midst of death, you are giving breath to what is beautiful and healing and true.

These Signposts originally appeared on explorefaith in 2004.