“God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks to us in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: Pain is God’s megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” – The Problem of Pain
“Papa does God hear me when I pray?” The little boy jumped into his bed, dirty socks drooping off of each foot. His Dad, a construction worker, tired from a hard day’s work, went into the bathroom and poured the boy a glass of water.
“Yeah, he hears you.”
“But how do you know he hears me?”
“Cause I just know.”
“Yeah, but can he see me too?”
“Yeah, he can see you.”
“But how do you know? Can you see God?”
“No, I can’t see him? Don’t be silly.”
“Then, how do you know he can see us?”
“Well,” said the Dad, just cause we can’t see him, that don’t mean he can’t see us.”
“But how do you know?”
“Cause I just know that’s all”. The boy’s big Dad grabbed hold of his droopy socks and playfully pulled them off his feet.
“Papa, is God big?”
“Yeah, he’s big. He’s bigger than everything,” the Dad handed the boy the glass of water.
“Bigger than the whole wide world?” asked the boy. He took a long drink of the water, his eyes stretching up toward his Dad?
“Yep, he’s bigger than the whole wide world.” The boy gave the half empty glass back to the Dad.
“And is he strong?”
“Yeah, he’s strong, and he knows everything, and he controls everything. I told you…he’s bigger than the whole wide world?”
“And he can talk too, right?”
“Yeah…he can talk.”
“I bet he has a loud voice.”
“I’ll bet he does,” said the Dad.
The little boy stood up on the bed. “Cause he would have to have a big, loud voice, since he’s bigger and stronger than the whole wide world. I mean, that’s really big.” The boy jumped up as if he was trying to touch the ceiling and then he fell back into his bed.
“Yeah,” said the Dad. “He’s plenty big and plenty strong, and yeah, he’s probably got a great big loud voice.”
“Well, if he’s so big and his voice is so loud, then why can’t I hear him talk?”
The dad stood there for a moment, staring at his son. He placed the glass of water on the bedside table and sat down on the edge of the bed. He kissed his little boy on the cheek. “I don’t know son. Maybe he just don’t talk as much as you do. Or maybe he just likes hearing you talk. You ever thought of that?”
The boy put his hands under the covers and tucked them under his chin. “No, I don’t think that’s it.”
“No. Cause maybe he’s saying stuff, but we don’t know how to listen?”
The Dad smiled. “May be…”
“Yeah, cause I have this girl in my school – her name is Jenny – and she was born with no ears, Papa.”
“Yeah, she don’t have no ears…but you can’t really tell cause she has really long hair.”
“She doesn’t have any ears?”
“Yeah, that’s right. She don’t have any ears. But I know her cause her class eats in the lunchroom at the same time as our class…and Papa – her ears – she’s not just missing the outside part of her ears but she’s missing the inside part too. And teacher told us that she couldn’t hear and neither could her whole class and so they are learning how to listen to hands. I thought that was funny because hands can’t talk. But teacher says that hands can talk, but we have to know what they’re saying. She says that hands can make signs.”
The dad walked over and took the clock from the top of the dresser and set it for 6:45am. “Yeah, that’s right. They call that sign language.”
“Yeah, that’s what my teacher said. So Jenny’s teacher taught them sign language. They all talk with their hands at lunch.”
“Wow, that’s pretty neat.”
“Yeah, and Papa, teacher said that when school lets out, and the parents come to pick up the kids, Jenny’s teacher wears red gloves. Did you hear that Papa? Her gloves are red so that all the kids can hear what she’s saying with her hands. And when they get out of line, the teacher holds up her red hands so that all the kids can hear her talk, but if they don’t look, then they can’t hear. So they get in trouble if they don’t look at the teacher’s hands. And I think that’s kinda scary?”
“Why is that scary?” The dad moved up closer to the bed.
“Well, think about it. Let’s say there was a little boys who didn’t have no ears, like Jenny. And if that little boy without ears wasn’t watching where he was going after school let out, and there was a car coming or something, then it wouldn’t matter how loud the teacher yelled, that kid still wouldn’t hear her.”
“Well, yeah. I guess that’s right.”
“So, what would the teacher do, Papa?”
“What do you mean?”
“It’s just that, what if the little boy, without any ears, wasn’t looking at the teacher’s hands. I mean, what if the teacher was talking with her hands, and she was even yelling with her red gloves, telling him to stop, but the little boy, he just wasn’t looking and he was about to run out into street and get hit by a car or a truck or something – then what would the teacher do Papa?” The boy looked up at his father, his eyes suddenly wide with anxiety.
The dad smiled at his son and raised his hands up around his face. “You mean, if all the teacher could use was her hands? Right?”
“And she couldn’t use her voice? Because he wouldn’t be able to hear her? Right?”
“Yeah, so how would the teacher keep the little boy safe?”
The dad squinted his eyes and wiggled his fingers beside his face. “Well…I don’t know what the teacher would do, but I know what I’d do.”
“I would take my hands…”
“Yeah,” said the boy.
“And I would hold up my red gloves like this…”
“And I would wiggle my fingers inside my red gloves like this…”
“And then…I would run over to that little kid…” The dad did a goofy running motion over to the edge of the bed. “And I would dive on top of that little boy…” The little boy yelled out loud as his Dad pounced on him. “And I would tickle him, and tickle him, and tickle him, until he couldn’t breath.” And the Dad did. And the little boy was giggling and laughing and squealing and yelling for his mom. “Mom! Help!”
“And then…,” said the Dad. He raised up over the boy and dove back in. “I would tickle him and tickle him and tickle him some more.” And the Dad did. He tickled him again and again and again until they both were laughing and there was so much noise that the little boy’s mom stuck her head into the room.
“I thought you were supposed to be going to bed?” she said smiling.
“Mom help me! Hes’ killing me!” the little boy said.
“We’ll be through in a minute honey,” said the Dad. Then the Dad rolled over laughing and sat on top of the boy and bounced. And the little boy laughed and laughed and tried to catch his breath. The Mom smiled, rolled her eyes then continued on down the hall.
The Dad held his hands around his face again and wiggled his fingers and looked at his son. He whispered, “And I would tickle that little boy so much that he would never, ever, ever, ever forget to look at my hands, ever again.” The Dad smiled. “Do you think that would work?”
The little boy grinned. “Yeah, I think that would work Papa.”
“Me too,” said the Dad. “I think that would work.” And the Dad stood up, walked to the door and placed his hand on the light switch. “OK, you ready?”
“Papa?” the little boy asked.
“What?” returned the Dad.
“Does God hear me when I pray?”
“Go to sleep!” said the Dad. And with that, the Dad turned off the light.