But God surrounds us with his shield of love

Psalm 5:11-12 But let all who take refuge in you rejoice; let them sing joyful praises forever. Spread your protection over them, that all who love your name may be filled with joy. For you bless the godly, O Lord; you surround them with your shield of love.

Joy. A feeling of great pleasure and happiness. Delight. Jubilation. Triumph. Exultation. Elation.

These are just a few of the synonyms we use to express this wonderful feeling. Scripture has a whole lot to say about this quality, the one we celebrate in Advent with the pink candle, indicating a shift from repentance toward celebration of the soon-coming King. It’s also called the Shepherd candle, Jesus as shepherd and the welcome of the shepherds:

“Don’t be afraid!” the angel said [to the shepherds]. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all peoples.” . . . The shepherds went back to their flocks, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen. (Read the whole story in Luke 2:8-20.)

The waiting room story I’m posting today illustrates God’s shield of love around us through a time of great anxiety for me, shifting me finally to relief and joy. I hope it will encourage you.

Have you been enjoying In the Waiting Room, Elise Massa’s collage of music, poetry, and art created especially for this Advent? Here’s the link again.

Also, Chris Massa created a marvelous Advent playlist of 45 titles in a variety of genres. It’s called Ascension Pittsburgh on Spotify. A great way to bring joy into our homes these cold days!

Spanish Poets, Karis age 15, São Paulo, Brazil

This new doctor, Dr. G, wanted first to see Karis alone. I sat rigid in the waiting room, my fingers crossed. “Please, Lord. Please, please, please” was the only prayer I could articulate.

A long search had brought us to yet one more waiting room in yet one more tangled, tiring trajectory across our city of 22 million. Dr. P, her Detroit doctor, had retired. “How could you do this to us, Dr. P?” was my anxious, irrational thought. After eight years guided by Dr. P through phone and email, we had to find a doctor for Karis in São Paulo. She had been seriously ill for months and growing steadily worse.

Responses of other doctors we had tried, both in the US and Brazil, rang in my mind: “I have no idea how to help her.” “You should just be grateful she’s still alive.” “There’s nothing to be done. You’ll have to make the best of it.” “Pseudo-obstruction? There’s no such thing. We could try dilating her intestine.” I shuddered, remembering that horribly painful procedure, with no apparent benefit.

“Please, Lord. Please, please, please.”

Dr. G’s nurse finally called me in. My daughter’s face was radiant. His counsel was solid, wise, informed. Something coiled tight inside me began to relax.

“What did you talk about that whole long time while I waited?” I asked her later.

“Hmm, we started with Alfonso Vallejo, I think. Or was it Ángel González Muñoz? Or Federico García Lorca? I can’t wait to read all the Spanish poets he recommended!”

From Shutterstock by DanielCz, Federico García Lorca, Plaza de Santa Ana, Madrid

“Wasn’t he examining you?”

“Oh yeah, that too. But the conversation was so fascinating I hardly noticed. When will we see him again? Next week?”

Years later, I read in Karis’s journal, “Dr. G practices medicine as art, not just science. I want to become a doctor like him.”

Thank you, Lord. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Karis two years later, Piazza San Marco, Vienna

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