December 12, Isaiah 40:1-5
By Steven Jones, The Baptist Home
"Comfort, O comfort My people…"
We all want comfort. We earnestly search for relief in a world of pain, sorrow and difficulty. Loneliness can be the greatest discomfort. The fear of danger can immobilize us. Uncertainty may lead to unbearable anxiety.
Moving into a new home was a frightening experience for me as a child. A new room in the darkness of the night can be very discomforting. The shadow of tree branches waving on the wall through the window…backlit by moonlight, created threatening poses. I thought myself too big to crawl into bed with my parents. If only I could lie near their bed on the floor; I knew I would be safe. The very presence of my parents was all that I needed.
The people of Israel had been taken into captivity by a foreign tyrant. Those who were taken away from the security of their families and homes wondered if God had abandoned them. However, the prophet Isaiah announced the good news of God's presence in a distant land.
Comfort comes from God's presence. This is the prevailing assurance of Scripture. From Adam and Eve's exit to Noah's ark, from Sarah's laughter to Ishmael's rejection, from Joseph in Egypt to Moses' burning bush, from Deborah's judgment under a tree to David's battle with Goliath, from Jonah's disobedience to the captivity of Israel, from Mary's song to Paul's imprisonment — God is always nearby.
We embrace this promise from the ascension of Jesus — "and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." Truly God is present everywhere. His presence is the source of all comfort.