I grew up in the heyday of radio. (Fact is, I didn't even see a television set until I was a teenager.) If we got our homework done, we could listen to various weeknight radio shows. Remember that spooky line the announcer always gave just before The Shadow came on: "Who knows what evil l-l-lurks in the hearts of men? The Shadow knows!" Then there would be a blood-curdling laugh, which faded away into the distance. I always liked all the lights on when we listened to that program.
Many years have passed since those simple and innocent days of my childhood, but that single line remains a haunting question to this day: Who, indeed, knows what wickedness lurks in the hearts of men and women?
We think we do. But how wrong we usually are. The heart houses secrets we can never see. People are awfully good at cover-up. Smiling masks often camouflage breaking hearts. About the time we think we've got somebody figured out, we're stunned to discover how much was hidden from view. Lurking in many a life is pain beyond belief.
In our world of superficial talk and casual relationships, it is easy to forget that a smile doesn't necessarily mean "I'm happy" and the courteous answer "I'm fine" may not be at all truthful. Just because it's Christmas, we can't assume everybody's merry. Even the closest family members can be blindly unaware of each other's pain.
I'm not suggesting that everyone is an emotional time bomb or that masks are worn by all who seem to be enjoying life. But I've lived long enough to know that many a heart hides agony while the face reflects ecstasy.
There is Someone, however, who fully knows what lurks in our hearts. And knowing, He never laughs mockingly and fades away. He never shrugs and walks away. Instead, He understands completely and stays near.
Who, indeed, knows? Our God, alone, knows. He sympathizes with our weaknesses and forgives all our transgressions. To Him there are no secret struggles or silent cries. He hears. He sees. He stays near. He accepts us and loves us unconditionally. He is "the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort."
He who loves us most knows us best. He who knows us best cares the most.
Excerpted from Day by Day with Charles Swindoll, Copyright © 2000 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. (Thomas Nelson Publishers). All rights reserved worldwide. Used by permission.