Those of us looking for signs that peace on earth might become more than just a seasonal wish, found some hope in the news this week—maniacal Qaddafi is offering to lay down his weapons of mass destruction.

Whether we’re searching for signs of peace or hope, looking for comfort in these signs is a trait common to most of us. It’s a search I see frequently in the hospital–especially when the search involves hoping for a healthy child.

“The doctors never expected her to live more than a few hours,” a dad once told me, “but now Laci’s six months old.”

“God must be watching her because we see butterflies everywhere,” added Laci’s hopeful mom. “It happened again yesterday. My friend called from Texas and while we were talking, he suddenly exclaimed, “Oh wow, a butterfly just landed on Laci’s picture.

“Chaplain,” she revealed in a whisper, “I’d never told him about the butterflies signs.”

“Then, while my wife was pregnant,” added the father, “we found a medallion with the Virgo symbol. We didn’t think much of it at the time because we expected Laci to be born as a Libra.”

“But,” interrupted the mother, “Laci was born premature—and was born the last day of Virgo!”

During desperate times, many of us will ask God for a sign to answer our questions.“ Please, God,” we’ll ask, “If you want me to marry this woman, let it rain tomorrow.” Or perhaps, we wonder, if the cloud that we saw resembling the face of Jesus was trying to tell us something.

People often ask me if God can speak though dreams or some kind of incident in their lives. I suppose God can speak through Barry Manilow if you’re listening, but the important question is “How did the sign make you feel? Hopeful? Or desperate?”

Signs should always bring more inspiration than desperation. If the sign seems to increase anxiety then perhaps it is something created out of our neediness. It is that neediness that will often cause us to wrongfully insist others must hear God in the same way – or worse we imply that others may not be listening to our version of “God.”

If the “sign” inspires you to feel hopeful, then it may possibly be God’s voice, because hope is what God is all about. Knowing that there is an existence outside of ourselves that is in control of the universe is a hope of the most spiritual kind. Anything that reminds of us of that hope, may well be from God.

As it did in the hearts of its participants, the Christmas story still inspires in me, a sign of hope. It is a story that began in the court of another maniacal king. Here, three wandering astrologers had come looking for signs and wonders that they hoped would point to a better day for God’s people.

However, the sign for which they were looking would not be in the court of King Herod. It would be in a humble stable where they would discover the same hope previously promised to the shepherds in the angels pronouncement: “For unto you is born this day in the city of David, a Savior, which is Christ the
Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you, you will find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.”

Just like Herod’s reign, the terror that seems to reign with men like Qaddafi will also end. The fact that these hopeful star-gazers found their “sign of peace” in a helpless child, proves that in a day where men search for evil weapons, the search for peace is still a worthy hope. If we are also wise, we will look past
what is temporary and focus on God’s hope. Only then can we ever hope to find peace on earth.