Day 16

Israel’s Strength and Consolation Day 16

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

BY Seana Scott

I slid into my seat for a Sunday night college service and slouched to hide from strangers. The strobe lights danced in rhythm as the worship band sang about freedom and forgiveness in Jesus. I wept uncontrollably. I chose to enter a relationship with a guy that led me into rebellion, and I gave this boy—who promised me the world—everything. Then six months later, he tossed me like an empty candy bar wrapper. 

My soul felt sucker punched as I sat in the destruction caused by my sin, like sitting in a field of ash with everything burnt to the ground. But I wanted God—I needed God. He was my only hope of rescue. So, I cried out to him over and over as the guitar strung the gospel.

It was a feeling of desperation. I imagine my emotion in those moments is a glimpse into what the Israelites may have felt when they were led away from the land into captivity with the temple destroyed and their walls torn down—extreme pain and remorse for their sin. 

For decades they cried out to God as they longed for restoration. They toiled in foreign soil, grieving the desolation of their lives and homes—the consequence of their rebellion against God. And Israel cried out to Him and remembered God’s covenant promises.

And the Lord answered Israel. He proclaimed to His people that their time of hard service (consequences) were completed (Isaiah 40:1–2). The prophet called for the nation to rejoice and shout for joy at God’s comfort and compassion (Isaiah 49:13). God strengthened them and bound their broken hearts (Isaiah 61:1–3). 

I think Israel’s story is much like our own—much like mine. I wonder how much of our pain and suffering results from our own poor choices. We know the right thing to do, but we rebel against the prodding of the Spirit and the truth of Scripture. The destruction in our relationships—even in our hearts—leaves us desolate in spirit. But there is hope for us, just like there was hope for Israel. When we know we need God, we are called “blessed” (Matthew 5:3–10). Sometimes the pain of our sin becomes the tool of leading us back toward righteousness. At least, it did for me. 

The Lord comforted me in my mourning. The Lord helped me see the kingdom of heaven in a new way—one of freedom rather than limitations (Matthew 5:3–10). God indeed gave me beauty of wholeness from ashes of despair as I learned to walk with Him again (Isaiah 61:3). What feels desolate in your life? What causes your heart to ache? May you have eyes to see our salvation by His grace (Luke 2:30) and may His comfort and compassion heal your brokenness.

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