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December 3 | Isaiah 40:1-5


 

DAILY READING

 

REFLECTION


Uncomfortable Comfort

by Elaine Pierce


The first verse of Isaiah 40 is such an encouraging one, isn't it? Who doesn't want comfort? And yet, if we look at the situation the people find themselves in, we might be forgiven for wondering why Isaiah urges comfort. The Israelites have been defeated, torn from their homes, their faith, and their way of life. Comfort does not seem to be part of the picture, does it? In 587 BC, Jerusalem is sacked and its people deported by Babylon, the new world power.


The comfort Isaiah is talking about is certainly not a material, earthly one. There are three voices that bring words of this comfort in verses 3, 6, and 9 (yes, we're going to read a few verses past today's assigned scripture).


V 3: A voice of one calling: "In the desert prepare the way for the Lord" (New Testament readers will recognize that this is the scripture John the Baptist quoted).


V 6: -8 A voice says "Cry out." And I said, "What shall I cry?" "All men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field...the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God stands forever."


V 9: You who bring good tidings to Zion, go up on a high mountain...say to the towns of Judah, "Here is your God!"


Today marks the start of Advent, as we prepare for Jesus' birth. In so many parts of our world, comfort is hard to find. Wars are raging. People are hungry. Families are fractured. Tempers flare over every misunderstanding. Anger erupts and egos clash. Where is this comfort? We know where it is, my friends. Listen again as Isaiah reminds his defeated, downcast fellow Jews that "the grass withers, the flowers fall, but the word of our God stands forever." (v. 8)


Yes, we will face trial and heartbreak. God knows this. His comfort will not guarantee you an easy life. In fact, that's not what he is offering. But he is offering eternal life to all who accept this freely offered gift. He is offering good tidings of great joy: Here is our God!


PRAYER

Thank you, Lord, for giving me a comfort that is everlasting. It does not depend on what I do, on my income, or on my accomplishments. Help me as I prepare for your son's birth to bask in the comfort that only you can give. Amen.



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