Feelings of disappointment and discouragement go hand-in-hand with life in a broken world. These emotions remind us that all is not as it should be.
For many people the weeks leading up to Christmas are especially challenging. The activities and expectations of the season, the shorter days and longer nights, and even the elusive hope for the perfect Christmas experience all take their toll on our emotions. Those who are prone to despair and depression can find this time of year to be particularly difficult.
When disappointment, discouragement, despair, or depression come, we look for relief. Sometimes we find a measure of encouragement from a friend or family member, or perhaps a temporary respite in food or drink. But, ultimately, we long for something more.
God’s children in Isaiah’s day faced challenges that brought them the same desire for comfort that we experience. God spoke to them with words that still apply to us today.
1 Comfort, comfort my people, says your God.
2 Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and proclaim to her that her hard service has been completed, that her sin has been paid for, that she has received from the Lord’s hand double for all her sins.
3 A voice of one calling: “In the wilderness prepare the way for the Lord; make straight in the desert a highway for our God.
4 Every valley shall be raised up, every mountain and hill made low; the rough ground shall become level, the rugged places a plain.
5 And the glory of the Lord will be revealed, and all people will see it together. For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”
6 A voice says, “Cry out.” And I said, “What shall I cry?”
“All people are like grass, and all their faithfulness is like the flowers of the field.
7 The grass withers and the flowers fall, because the breath of the Lord blows on them. Surely the people are grass.
8 The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God endures forever.”
9 You who bring good news to Zion, go up on a high mountain. You who bring good news to Jerusalem, lift up your voice with a shout, lift it up, do not be afraid; say to the towns of Judah, “Here is your God!”
10 See, the Sovereign Lord comes with power, and he rules with a mighty arm. See, his reward is with him, and his recompense accompanies him.
11 He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young.
Isaiah 40:1-11 (NIV)
Centuries later a devout Jew named Simeon recognized the baby Jesus as the One who would bring consolation or comfort to God’s people (see Luke 2:25-35). More than 2000 years later, we can enjoy the same comfort that Simeon found in Jesus. The times and circumstances have changed, but our God has not. He still cares for us as much as He cared for the people of Isaiah’s day and the people of Simeon’s day.
“The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God endures forever” (Isaiah 40:8). God promised to comfort His people, and He continues to keep that promise!
Reflection and Discussion
- Where do you usually seek comfort when you are discouraged?
- What aspect(s) of Jesus’ life and ministry do you find especially comforting?
You know the needs we have. You know the challenges we face. You know what discourages us. Thank You for being the God who cares, who loves us, and who has promised to comfort us. Thank You for being the God who keeps His promises. By Your grace, may we turn to You and find comfort in our times of need.