Comfort, comfort my people, says your God.
Speak tenderly to Jerusalem,
and cry to her
that her warfare is ended,
that her iniquity is pardoned,
that she has received from the LORD’s hand
double for all her sins.
A voice cries:
“In the wilderness prepare the way of the LORD;
make straight in the desert a highway for our God.
Every valley shall be lifted up,
and every mountain and hill be made low;
the uneven ground shall become level,
and the rough places a plain.
And the glory of the LORD shall be revealed,
and all flesh shall see it together,
for the mouth of the LORD has spoken.”
A voice says, “Cry!”
And I said, “What shall I cry?”
All flesh is grass,
and all its beauty is like the flower of the field.
The grass withers, the flower fades
when the breath of the LORD blows on it;
surely the people are grass.
The grass withers, the flower fades,
but the word of our God will stand forever.
Go on up to a high mountain,
O Zion, herald of good news;
lift up your voice with strength,
O Jerusalem, herald of good news;
lift it up, fear not;
say to the cities of Judah,
Behold your God!”
Behold, the Lord God comes with might,
and his arm rules for him;
behold, his reward is with him,
and his recompense before him.
He will tend his flock like a shepherd;
he will gather the lambs in his arms;
he will carry them in his bosom,
and gently lead those that are with young. (Isaiah 40 ESV)
“Has God forgotten about us? About me?”
“Is God still working?”
“Is God able to redeem this situation and my circumstances?”
“Does God see me in my plight?”
“Does God know this pain in my soul?”
Surely we’ve asked questions like this, just as the Israelites were asking when their good kings died and prophets were telling of their impending punishment, destruction, and exile.
Isaiah hears from God. God says, “Comfort my people.”
What would comfort a distraught, war-ravaged, and discouraged people, a people familiar with pain?
God answers with a picture of his might and power and his prowess over pagan gods. He also answers with the truth that he is not a far-off God but a tender, attentive, and responsive God who is like a shepherd tending his flock.
Prepare the way of the LORD.
Make the path clear for the King.
He is coming with redemption and is ready to be received by his people.
Will we receive him into our lives and hearts?
That secret pain in your soul? That broken friendship? That ailment, diagnosis, or trauma? That anxiety that plagues your thoughts and your physical body? The fear that cripples you?
Clear the path for the King.
Your strong Shepherd draws you into his bosom for protection and provides warmth and care. He is with you, and, more than that, he is carrying you, little lamb.
Behold, the LORD God who comes with might is the same God who tends your wounds and calms your anxious heart. He is acquainted with grief and is no stranger to betrayal. He knows well your aching soul. Our good Shepherd, Immanuel, desires to tend to his flock.
This truth is balm for our doubting and hurting hearts. It’s a truth we can stand on because the word of our God will stand forever.
May we, like Isaiah was instructed – even in the midst of warfare, tragedy, doubt, and ruin – go up to a high mountain, lift up our voice with strength, and proclaim the might, nearness, and goodness of our God, even if only to our own heart.
Jessie Rediger, along with her husband, Vince, and their four kids, are planting Mercy Church in Utah County, Utah.