Day 16

Israel’s Strength and Consolation Day 16

from the reading plan

Isaiah 40:1-2, Isaiah 49:13, Isaiah 61:1-3, Luke 2:21-38, Matthew 5:3-10, Matthew 23:37

I remember the very first time I watched my granddaughter all by myself. She was a couple of months old, and it had been a long time since I’d flown solo with a baby. Yet, if my son and daughter-in-law had any qualms about putting “Pops” in charge for a few hours, they never let it show.

Of course, these were the days when “watching her” basically meant giving her a bottle, changing her diaper, and holding her as she slept. Those were the three basic requirements for a peaceful day. This was not the stuff of rocket science or brain surgery. I had it all under control…until I didn’t.

The old cliché says, “two out of three isn’t bad.” Well, the old cliché never accounted for the dismay of a hungry baby. When my granddaughter started acting hungry, I got one of the bottles my daughter-in-law had prepared. Unfortunately, nothing came out when the baby started sucking on the bottle. And the longer this went on, the louder she cried. There were no comforting words to relieve her hunger. 

Thankfully, I discovered the source of our shared misery. The stopper was still in the bottle. Once it was out, the formula flowed freely, and my little girl found the comfort she had been seeking so desperately. 

In Isaiah’s day, God’s people sought comfort and encouragement. They hungered for something that could give them hope. The problem was they were looking in the wrong places. Instead of turning to the One who knew and loved them best, they turned to false gods made of wood or stone. Instead of a relationship, they trusted rituals. As a result, their lives were as empty as my granddaughter’s stomach before the stopper came out. 

God has always been in the business of healing broken hearts and mending shattered lives. He longs to provide comfort and compassion to His people, even during those challenging and painful days that make up this earthly life. Like the Israelites, we chase the wind more times than we’d like to admit. That’s why Advent is such a great season. It reminds us that we serve a God who cares, a God who comforts.

If nothing else, Christmas teaches us that God loved us so much that He sent His Son to earth to become one of us. When Jesus took on human flesh, He experienced everything we experience in this life. He hurt and suffered because we hurt and suffer. He knows how we feel and can provide what we need.

This Advent, let’s refuse to trust in what offers no nourishment or relief. Let’s reject idols that are all stone and no Savior. Instead, let’s embrace the comfort and compassion only God can provide in Christ.

He served as Israel’s strength and consolation. He can—and will—do the same for us.

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