Text: Isaiah 40:1-31, Isaiah 41:1-29, John 1:23, 2 Corinthians 1:3-7
I remember the exact Tennessee pasture I was passing when I found out things were not okay. One 43-second phone call was all it took to reroute my morning commute and all future plans. My favorite person was gone, leaving a void too large and a shock too real to swallow. I wasn’t sure what else to do but to keep driving, allowing the quiet backroad to usher me out of my once-present joy and into a whole new reality.
I pulled into my usual office parking spot with an unusual, aching sound caught in my throat. I felt paralyzed by the news, but somehow hurried inside anyway, my fingertips throbbing as I slammed the car door. Rebecca was already there, standing in the doorway, waiting to receive my sadness.
When I’d been introduced to Rebecca just a few weeks prior, I’d been wearing my first-day-of-work finest. Our shared love for showtunes had grown from a quiet, excited discussion to loud, harmonized renditions of all our favorite songs (with assigned parts, of course). Over a shared lunch of red pepper soup and tossed salad greens, we began brainstorming names for the baby she was expecting in the spring. But neither of us was expecting the news that would come sooner.
The 43-second phone call had sparked the need for a 5-hour trip—one Rebecca graciously offered to drive. As I sat in the passenger seat of my little blue car, I didn’t fully realize that God had given me the comfort I needed in the form of a person. But this was hardly the first time He’d come to comfort.
Exile had forced the Israelites to leave the life they loved, and without warning. I don’t know where they were when they found out, but I’ll bet the news left them dumbfounded, not knowing where to go or what to do with their grief. To whom could they take their heartache?
“Comfort, comfort My people,” says your God.
“Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and announce to her that her time of forced labor is over,
her iniquity has been pardoned,
and she has received from the Lord’s hand double for all her sins.”
- Isaiah 40:1-2
God was standing in the entryway of the Israelites’ new lives, offering the promise of comfort and an end to their suffering. They didn’t know it would come in the form of a person—much less a baby and ultimately, a cross—but it certainly would. “For as the sufferings of Christ overflow to us, so through Christ our comfort also overflows” (2 Corinthians 1:5).
The best comfort in our grief comes not from answers to stand behind, but from those who will sit with us in our pain. The incarnation of Christ gives us both. The places His body were pierced on the cross created vessels for the Father’s comfort to flow to us. Because “it is finished,” we are comforted (John 19:30).
Praise the Lord for giving us a Person. “Praise the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort” (2 Corinthians 1:3).