Comfort, comfort my people, says their God
Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and cry to her
that her warfare is ended, that her iniquity is pardoned . . .
It’s Christmas time, for many of us our favorite time of the year.
This is the season of brilliant lights and beautiful color, of celebration and laughter, of holiday parties and family traditions, of rich memories and precious anticipations. There is no season like Christmas.
Yet for many of us there’s another side to Christmas, a dark and colorless side, a season of painful memories and family struggles when those who should have brought us joy have brought us sadness and grief and deep hurt instead. There is much silent suffering at Christmas time as many among us find it to be the most hurtful time of the year.
While many, perhaps most of us are rejoicing, what can we say to those who suffer?
The ancient prophet, Isaiah, who wrote some of the greatest Christmas passages in history, gives a word about the comfort of Christmas for us in Isaiah 40:1: Comfort, comfort my people, says your God. As God offered comfort through the promise He made to Isaiah the prophet, so He offers comfort through us.
Jerusalem had brought much suffering on itself. The people of that ancient city of God turned from Him and worshipped false gods who brought great loss to them. However, God had not quit on them or turned away from them. Instead He was acting to restore them and return them to their wonderful place of blessing and joy. What He did for Jerusalem He does for us. You may know of His fullness of grace, of the coming of Jesus to give us the brilliance and beauty of Christmas celebration and that grace gives you His peace and His blessing. You know the joy of God’s embracement, the amazing presence of God, the wonder of God’s assurance. Elohim, the name for God in this passage and the Creator of the universe, has come among us, and Emmanuel, God, is with us. Jesus lives in us and the Holy Spirit assures us He has come to give us the certainty that He is our peace in the season of suffering that discourages our hearts while those around us rejoice.
If you are one of His people cry, out to Him and seek His joy even while you grieve the loss of precious ones or have painful thoughts from the past that makes Christmas a discouraging season for you. However, if you are not one of His people turn from painful memories to the joy of the new life that the comfort of Jesus brings you. He came and lived among us to bring His comfort to us through His sacrifice for us. While Christmas tells us of the season of His birth, it introduces yet another season, the season when He gave His life to bring us His peace. Trust Him for the forgiveness God offers all who turn to Him.
And if you are one of His people offer His comfort to those who grieve and suffer at this season through the one He sent to take His place, the Comforter, the Holy Spirit who offers Christ in us, the joy of the Christmas season, the life of His presence, and the fullness of His fruit through us.