Scripture Reading — Isaiah 40:1-11
Comfort, comfort my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem ... Isaiah 40:1-2 —
We do not want false hope. For example, if a doctor says we have cancer and recommends treatments for a possible cure, we might say, "Be honest with me. Is there any hope of surviving this?" I remember being 30 years old (not so long ago), and I remember people then who were as old as I am now--and they have died of old age. Is there room for hope in this life--even mini-hope? In 1956 our family immigrated to California. My father was full of hope that he would one day own his own dairy. Eight years later he died. The cynic says, "Don't hope. Take what you can today. Tomorrow? Who knows?" Our Scripture today gives a different perspective. In the midst of brokenness and exile, God says, "Comfort, comfort my people ... Speak tenderly ... to her." We may be like grass, but because God is in the field, the odds for hope increase exponentially. God has not abandoned us. God is faithful. Isaiah is told, "Speak tenderly"--that is, "Speak to the heart." It's the voice of the lover wooing the beloved not to settle in exile, not to surrender to despair--assuring her, "It will be good; it will end well." In this Advent season "may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him" (Romans 15:13).
Gracious God, drive your promises deep into our hearts, that we may be encouraged and overflow with hope each day. In Jesus' name we pray. Amen.