“Comfort, give comfort to my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and proclaim to her
that her service is at an end … Then the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all people shall see it together; for the mouth of the LORD has spoken.” (Isaiah 40:1, 5)
Isaiah is generally considered by many, to be the greatest prophet. The first 39 chapters in Isaiah carry the message of judgment for sin. The chapters contain scathing pronouncements as he calls Judah, Israel and the surrounding nations to repentance. He confronts the people with their idolatry and inconsistent reliance on that which is not the Lord. He calls them from behavior that creates a chasm between God and them.
Today's verses from Chapter 40 are where the last 27 chapters of the book of Isaiah begin. Here we find messages of hope and consolation as Isaiah prophesies God's promise to future blessings through the Messiah. In the opening verses of Chapter 40 an unnamed heavenly voice tells the prophet to bring comfort to God's people. The people in Jerusalem shall be told that the price for their sins (and the sins of all the world) have been paid.
Have you ever read these words and thought they were directed to you? Have you thought that this might be a proclamation of how you are to live your life and give voice to these words as part of your ministry? I believe these words are spoken to all who were and are a part of God's Kingdom yesterday, today and tomorrow. We are all called to bring comfort to people and to remind them that God is here: Here in the midst of your pain; here as you experience loss and grief; here as you struggle with addiction or mental illness or terminal diagnosis; here as you suffer from a broken spirit, a broken heart, or broken relationships; here always.
Yes, you are a messenger of this prophecy to those to whom you minister. Whether you are interacting with friends, family or patients and their families who seek care at Avera, you are called to bring to them the assurance that the God of comfort, power and tenderness is with them. Just as the Lord carries the lambs in his arms (verse 11) holding them close to his heart, he will carry us and those we care for through the deepest, darkest valleys in life.
Reflect during this Advent season how God has been present to you in life's journey, especially in challenging and dark times of life. When have you mostly clearly known his faithfulness and infinite love? Also think about how you can be a prophetic voice to those whom you encounter in life. Each day, may you be the confident assurance, the voice, the face and the gentle hands that reveal the Lord's presence.