Do you have a favourite comfort food? For some it’s chocolate, others a takeaway Indian meal from their favourite restaurant. For me, at the moment, it’s homemade fish pie.
When the food is in our mouth it’s delicious, it leaves a warm feeling on the inside. However, the delightful taste quickly becomes a memory; the warm feelings disappear. Where can we go? Who can we turn to for lasting comfort? Let us look at today’s Bible passage, Isaiah 40:1-5.
“Comfort, yes, comfort My people!” Says your God. “Speak comfort to Jerusalem, and cry out to her, That her warfare is ended, That her iniquity is pardoned; For she has received from the LORD’s hand double for all her sins.” Isaiah 40:1-2 (NKJV)
In verses 1 and 2, we see God speaking to His people through Isaiah, the prophet, gently and lovingly. The hearers of these words in Isaiah’s day found comfort in these words. The promise of an end to warfare resonates with us today. Often in 2020, it’s felt like we’re in a battle, but there have been times that God has spoken to us in gentle and loving ways.
In verse 3, there’s another voice. The voice of one announcing that God is coming to be with His people.
“A thunderous voice cries out in the wilderness: “Prepare the way for Yahweh’s arrival!…” Isaiah 40:3 (The Passion Translation)
The message of Advent and Christmas often gets lost in the commercialisation of the season. I am not surprised that there are times when God has to use a booming voice to get His message through to His people and our world.
“…Prepare the way for Yahweh’s arrival! Make a highway straight through the desert for our God! Every valley will be raised up, every mountain brought low. The rugged terrain will become level ground and the rough places a plain. Isaiah 40:3-4 (The Passion Translation)
These verses give us instruction and promise. We are to prepare our hearts to receive God. As we do this, God promises to smooth out obstacles in our lives. These are verses loaded with hope for those who face what seem to be immovable mountains or seem stuck in the valley of despair.
“And the glory of the LORD will be revealed, and all people will see it together. For the mouth of the LORD has spoken.” Isaiah 40:5 (New International Version)
Jesus’ coming (John 1:14) reveals the glory of God. As we navigate how best to celebrate Christmas this year, let us take time out to listen out for God’s gentle and loving voice guiding and comforting us.
Father God, thank you that You love us and speak to us in gentleness. Help us to prepare our hearts for Your arrival. May your glory shine upon us and through us to a world that needs Your comfort. Amen.
Written by Graham Crosbie. Graham works in IT for a global Christian humanitarian aid agency and serves on the leadership team of Hope Church Newham; his current favourite food is homemade fish pie.