A great throng of people gathered around the king’s throne. The diverse crowd, as vast as the sea, stood before the seated king. They had gathered to issue forth their complaints. As the people shared their own personal stories with each other, the intensity of the moment grew. Finally, one brave person approached the king’s throne to articulate his complaint.
Slowly, he limped before the king. His dirty clothes betrayed something of the struggle he had undergone. He cleared his throat and spoke. “I am a refugee of a country where violence is common. I was forced to leave everything behind to live in a foreign country as an alien. My home and all the comforts of my life were stripped away from me. If you truly are a benevolent king that has his people’s best interest at heart, where were you? Do you care? What could you possibly know about losing everything and leaving the comfort of your home to suffer as an outcast?”
Another person stepped forward. This time it was a young woman. “I was abducted from my home when I was a little girl and sold as a slave for sex. For years I endured the horrific abuse of my captors as they degraded me, treating me not as a human being but as an object. What do you know of having to endure such undeserved, horrific evil? From your place of privilege what do you know about experiencing evil even though you are innocent? If you are a loving king, why don’t you do something about this? Do you care or even understand?”
The next person who approached the throne was a poor widow. “I’ve lived in poverty my whole life. Even though I worked hard and was told all I needed to do was ‘pull myself up by the bootstraps’, I still wrestled against those who had all the power while I had none. Despite my effort, my poverty hasn’t changed. You, king, live in safety. What do you know of poverty? Do you know what it’s like to not have a place to lay your head at night? Do you understand what it’s like to feel powerless to change your situation?”
Now a young man in a wheelchair came forward to bring yet another charge against the king. “I suffered an accident when I was a boy and have been bound in this chair ever since.” The young man went on. “Do you know what it’s like to be marginalized; treated as someone who is different? I have felt like an outsider my whole life, deserted by everyone I thought were my friends. Do you understand what it’s like to feel all alone because you didn’t fit in?”
“While my complaint is not like others, still in the end I’m filled with anger!” The older man, who ventured out from the crowd, ranted on, “I’ve worked hard in life. Yet, as I look at those people it seems like they’re just cutting in front of me in life, taking what should really be for good people who work hard for it. I’m angry because it’s not fair. Don’t you care about people like me who are work hard and are basically good people? Why should good people like me have to bear the weight of others? You, O king, have no idea of what that is like.”
One by one, representatives of the crowd came forward with the same complaint: “King, you don’t understand what I’ve been through because you haven’t come off your throne. You sit in the security of your kingdom with no thought of what it’s like to live where I live.” As the charges grew in number so did the volume of their responses. The group of people now resembled something more like a mob demanding a response.
Slowly the king rose. With tears in his eyes he began to speak. More like a loving parent than a regal ruler, his voice trailed off, “My son…” It was as if, in some unfathomable way, he understood. What was once an unruly mob demanding an answer now quickly quieted. The people were uncomfortably silent as they pondered the king’s words, “My son”. As each person thought of their charge and their anger toward the king, they began to grasp the possibility that he HAD done something. Maybe the king understood more than they imagined. Somehow the empathy in his voice said, yes, he had in some way entered into their world.
Sometimes the universe screams in its silence: “God isn’t listening. He doesn’t care or understand.” Advent is the time of year where we don’t just celebrate a holiday season of gift giving. We celebrate “waiting” for the arrival of Messiah, the Son of God, to answer the aching in our hearts, “God, do you understand?” Of course, we know the end of the story… “Unto us a child is born”. On that day, He took on human flesh so that we could never say, “You don’t understand. Aren’t you going to do something?” He left the safety of His home and gave up His rights. He endured hunger, loneliness, being misunderstood, abuse, wandering with no real place to call home, powerlessness, His life on earth culminated in betrayal by friends prior to Him suffering a horrific death on a cross. He was despised and rejected, the true Man of Sorrows (or “suffering” in Isaiah 53:3). All of this He did in self-giving to us so we could be assured, He does understand after all.