❝From this time forward I make you hear new things, hidden things that you have not known.❞ Isaiah 48:6
Reflection by Peter Pinnow
After reading how Hamlet hears his father’s ghost ask for vengeance for his murder, I used to ask my classes what they would do if their father’s ghost came to them wanting bloodshed. They invariably assured me they would obey the ghost. Usually all I had to do to change their minds was say, “Your honor, I’m innocent because a ghost told me to do it.” My students would realize with Hamlet that a supernatural visitation doesn’t count as proof in court no matter how much the audience or Hamlet knows the ghost should be believed.
When Isaiah tells of God’s promise that we will hear new things, we long for the skies to miraculously blast us with PROOF. After all, on that first Christmas, the shepherds listened to the angelic host, found the baby, and told everyone their astonishing story. We expect that if only God so revealed himself to us, our glowing testimony would be used by God to usher in a golden age. But even the shepherds “went back to their flocks” to carry on their lives of drudgery.
Because ghosts don’t tell us what to do, and baby Jesus doesn’t coo to us from a manger, we sometimes think that our crises of faith are God’s fault for not revealing himself to us so clearly. We don’t realize that we are trying to dictate to God just what new things we want to hear when wishing for the ghost to tell us to skewer Claudius or the angels to guide us to a barn. We want dramatic proof, but God knows that even with such a demonstration we would still doubt.
In his frustrating, marvelous wisdom, God gave us a “new thing”–the Holy Spirit living in us. Paul writes in Galatians of the Holy Spirit guiding us in freedom “to serve one another in love.” We aren’t forced to set a mousetrap for our murderous uncle or keep telling our story of angels until nobody believes us. The proof we mistakenly wish as tangible is found in God’s love and presence showing the fruits of the Spirit. God tells us of new things every day through the Spirit’s influence in us, so that even in our darkest hours we still know God’s true love. The miracles are already in us if we only listen for them on God’s terms rather than our own expectations.