â€œComfort, comfort my people,â€ says your God.
Speak tenderly to Jerusalem.
Tell her that her sad days are gone and her sins are pardoned.
Yes, the Lord has punished her twice over for all her sins.
Listen! Itâ€™s the voice of someone shouting,
â€œClear the way through the wilderness for the Lord!
Make a straight highway through the wasteland for our God!
Fill in the valleys, and level the mountains and hills.
Straighten the curves, and smooth out the rough places.
Then the glory of the Lord will be revealed, and all people will see it together.
The Lord has spoken!â€
A voice said, â€œShout!â€
I asked, â€œWhat should I shout?â€
â€œShout that people are like the grass.
Their beauty fades as quickly as the flowers in a field.
The grass withers and the flowers fade beneath the breath of the Lord.
And so it is with people.
The grass withers and the flowers fade,
but the word of our God stands forever.â€ Â Â Isaiah 40:1-8 (NLT)
Lectionary Texts: Isaiah 40:1-8, Psalm 85, 2 Peter 3:8-15a, Mark 1:1-8
It is thought that this passage of Isaiah was given while the Israelites were in exile. It means something to me, now, in 2011.
I cannot begin to imagine the feelings and thoughts of the Israelites as they are slaves in a land foreign to them in social structure and in religious beliefs and practices. Despair that they will ever return home. Did they think that God had abandoned them? I could describe my feelings like that.
When I am bowed over, I hear God’s tender voice encouraging me to lift my head and see that He is right there with me. He never left. I allow the problems and difficulties to become so big in my mind that I think no one can overcome them. The Holy Spirit speaks God’s truth to me and the â€œgiantsâ€ begin to shrink down to size. They become what they truly are â€“ those yippy little dogs that make so much noise and bite my ankles, causing me to take my eyes off my Creator and LORD.
How much time do I spend in a day thinking about problems, trying to figure out the â€œwhy’sâ€ and â€œwhat’s nextâ€? Now, how much time do I spend meditating on God’s words? If I spend more time on problems than I do reading, praying, and learning more about God, that could give me some explanation why my problems seem so big! But if I spend more time with God and then take His wisdom and knowledge and consider the problems, my perspective is more clear and realistic.
Receive God’s comfort and His wisdom and His great love. Accept it like a child accepts the tender cuddling of their father. A child doesn’t expect their father to charge for that comfort. Our Father doesn’t charge either.
Comfort Ye My People from Handel’s Messiah, sung by Jerry Hadley