The voice of Saruman and the laughter of God

I went for a long walk the other day, partly for the exercise, but also because my prayers are more fluent when I’m walking.  I was feeling distressed, struggling with doubt and confusion.  While walking I prayed “Lord, I need you to cut through this fog.”

I then remembered my favorite moment from “The Lord of the Rings” book series.  In “The Two Towers”, the army of the traitorous white wizard Saruman is defeated and his own powers are waning.  The true white wizard Gandalf, Théoden, Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli—leaders and warriors of Middle-Earth—approach Saruman’s great tower doors to finally manage him.  The doors open, Saruman appears, and he then attempts one last act of trickery.

He speaks to them sweetly of how his presumed injustices have been misunderstood, misconstrued, how Gandalf was meddling in their affairs, how peace was yet possible with his assistance.  As he slowly and craftily speaks, things seem less clear to many listening.  Perhaps Saruman’s atrocities were justifiable; possibly their war against Sauron was petty.  Maybe Gandalf had been manipulating them all along for his own ends.  The moment is treacherous and their minds are shadowed.

“Then Gandalf laughed.  The fantasy vanished like a puff of smoke.”

Clouded and confused with sinister suspicions they knew not how to resist, the mirthy laughter of their powerful friend was all it took to remind the fellowship of what was real and true.  In the moments that followed, Saruman learns his bewitching voice has lost its harnessing power and he is no longer master of others, nor of himself.  Leaving him to his tragedy, the band of warriors depart his door to continue their mission to save Middle-Earth.

I remember tearing up the first time I read that chapter.  It resonated with my faith; I felt protected.  My heart glowed again recalling the scene while walking and praying for God’s hopeful clarity.

When King Saul haunted David’s steps, hunting him all the way to his home to kill him, David prayed for God’s deliverance from the unleashed dogs who voraciously hounded him.  Trying to clear from his mind their menacing arrogance, David prays “But You, O LORD, laugh at them; You scoff at all the nations.”

While Israel’s monarch breathes out violence, David turns his hope to Israel’s true King, whose sovereign designs hilariously overrule Saul’s petty plans.  We also can prayerfully perceive that hope.  When you feel darkness encroaching with devilish intent, it can help your heart to hope “He who is enthroned in the heavens laughs”.

When you are clouded with the disorienting and disrupting fog of fear, doubt, confusion, and chaos, may hope help you hear your Father’s mirthy, deep bellied and boisterous laughter.  It will echo through the valleys, dispel the daze, and light up the dark.  May it awaken you to what is real and grant you sight in light of what is true, that your Father is protecting you.

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