George Bailey is a kind man who frequently puts his own plans aside for the benefit of others. But when George’s life falls apart he wanders into the dark and makes a desperate prayer – he wishes he had never been born. An angel, Clarence, appears to make his wish come true, and George sees what life in his home town would have been like without him. It’s a shock. Without realizing it George has been influencing those around him for good, and without his presence so many positive things never happened. The town is rife with hopelessness, drinking and gambling,
In the Bible Job, like George, comes to a point of wishing he’d never been born. He is going through desperate times and in chapter 3 of his book he curses the day of his birth. In chapter 30 we get a glimpse of life without Job’s influence, now that he is withdrawn, sick and sad. The young have become rebels who mock him, and their fathers are useless wastrels who wander about like stray dogs. His town is full of trouble. This is in great contrast to the way life used to be, as described in chapter 29, when Job was around to help others.
There is a saying, ‘For evil to prosper good people just need to do nothing.’ You could say this is something experienced by Job and George Bailey. When they stop doing good, they witness evil rearing its twisted face.
George gets a great gift, a chance to see what the world would be like without him. Job sees it for real, taken out of the fray because of ill health, loss and grief. Fortunately for both of them its own a momentary glimpse. They get to live again, and to influence their worlds for good and for God. When Jesus talked about folks being like light for the world, he encouraged us to ‘Let your light shine.’ Not so that we would get bonus points, loud applause, headlines and shiny awards, but ‘so that others will see and look to your heavenly father.’ The one who is the author of goodness, kindness, selflessness and courage.