Comfort, O Comfort

Isaiah 40:1–11

Comfort, O comfort my people,
 says your God.
Speak tenderly to Jerusalem,
 and cry to her
that she has served her term,
 that her penalty is paid,
that she has received from the Lord’s hand
 double for all her sins.

A voice cries out:
“In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord,
 make straight in the desert a highway for our God.
Every valley shall be lifted up,
 and every mountain and hill be made low;
the uneven ground shall become level,
 and the rough places a plain.
Then the glory of the Lord shall be revealed,
 and all people shall see it together,
 for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”

A voice says, “Cry out!”
 And I said, “What shall I cry?”
All people are grass,
 their constancy is like the flower of the field.
The grass withers, the flower fades,
 when the breath of the Lord blows upon it;
 surely the people are grass.
The grass withers, the flower fades;
 but the word of our God will stand forever.
Get you up to a high mountain,
 O Zion, herald of good tidings;
lift up your voice with strength,
 O Jerusalem, herald of good tidings,
 lift it up, do not fear;
say to the cities of Judah,
 “Here is your God!”
See, the Lord God comes with might,
 and his arm rules for him;
his reward is with him,
 and his recompense before him.
He will feed his flock like a shepherd;
 he will gather the lambs in his arms,
and carry them in his bosom,
 and gently lead the mother sheep.

Comfort, O Comfort

I remember sitting in a pew at our little island church with my face covered in tears. Heart-wrenching news came earlier that Sunday morning. My father was dead. Feelings of concern and confusion were muddled with fresh grief as I sat wondering if God saw and was attentive to my despair. I felt like life had ended for me too. Had God forgotten about me? 

Similar to the Jews in Babylonian exile, we find ourselves in the midst of spiritual and emotional deserts feeling abandoned and forgotten. It seems like all we have encountered are trials and tribulations. Tears of hardship and tears of heartache are our food. We ask, “Where is God?”

Isaiah 40 responds with words to encourage the soul. The Lord has indeed heard our cries in the midst of the wilderness and has sent words of comfort. Listen! Hear the good news! The Lord is coming! The Lord, our rescue, will sustain us. Justice and mercy are in his hands. The Father to the fatherless has not forgotten his own.

Cry out in the dry places of death and defeat. Our God will hear you. Prepare your hearts to meet God. The Comforter will surely come. Our present tears will be exchanged for future joy. Dear friends, wait expectantly, work diligently, and worship wholeheartedly. Be encouraged!

“The glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all people shall see it together, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”

by Kim Bolden