This has been a difficult time, hasn’t it? It has been for me. With fears and anxieties about the coronavirus weighing on us and political turmoil swirling around us, I’ve often felt like my brain was overloaded and my emotions constantly on edge. On any given day I might cycle through worry, grief, sadness, or just a numbness of feeling. It’s been hard for me to find peace; hard to find hope; hard to feel balanced or centered or normal. It’s not a normal time and I’m still trying to figure out how to navigate these strange days. Sometimes I even wonder where God is in all of this. And as I talk with friends and family, I realize I’m not the only one. We’re in this together.
Isaiah the Prophet lived in stormy times as well. And he saw things that others didn’t see. His homeland was invaded by a foreign military power. He looked ahead to see oppression, captivity, and exile for his people; an experience that threatened their existence and identity and relationship with God. Their experience might be different than ours, but they too knew worry, grief, and the rest of the tossed salad of emotions we feel in times of great stress. They were overwhelmed, frightened, and often hopeless.
And yet, Isaiah saw a light in the darkness. He told his people that even in the midst of uncertainty, distress, and despair, God does see us and God does care. He was called to remind his people of the good news that God is with us even in the most difficult days. He doesn’t ignore the tragedies of his time, but he tells us that God will bind up the brokenhearted, free those in captivity, comfort all who mourn, and repair the devastation of our lives. He tells us that God loves justice and that days of rejoicing will come again.
In this Advent season, we remember that Jesus comes as the fulfillment of the words of Isaiah. Early in his public ministry, he borrows some of the language of Isaiah and makes it his own. He preaches good news to the poor, recovery of sight to the blind, deliverance to the oppressed.
These are words I need to hear today. I suspect you do too. Words of hope, words of comfort, words of promise; words that take hold of us and remind us that God is with us even when we don’t always realize it. Jesus comes with good news. He comes to teach us how to see again. He comes to deliver us from our fears and worries and hopelessness and grief. This is truly a light in the darkness. But we know that it isn’t always or often as a bolt from heaven. It comes in God’s good time.
The leaves have fallen from the trees. It’s getting colder. Winter will be here soon. The season reflects our own season of uncertainty and sadness. But spring will come again. Isaiah concludes his message with a reminder that seeds have been planted and will grow again into a garden. Days of rejoicing will come again. Yes, these are words I need to hear today.
Pastor Terry Anderson
Adjunct Pastor – Pastoral Care and Visitation