Out of Darkness – Hope

I’ve been talking to a lot of people who are struggling emotionally this Christmas. Some grieve the loss of a precious person in their life.

Others’ speak of our negative political landscape. Decisions made in Washington may run counter to our deepest values and beliefs.  Dire predictions  about our rapidly changing climate and Washington’s tepid response have damped the Christmas spirit.

There seems to be no end to wars and the tragic repercussions for our soldiers. A small number of people carry the burden for the rest of the nation.

Some of us are fearful of people who have gathered at our southern border, seeking refuge here. Others of us are fearful of the fearful.

Our divisions have separated parents from children, brothers and sisters from each other, and longtime friends have broken relationships over political views. The prophet Isaiah asks us to turn and listen. Isaiah, writing out of the pain of war, gives a message of hope.  In the midst of our divisions, our losses and discouragement, he points us to the promises of God.

Isaiah’s words come as a beacon of light. The promise is not simply the absence of war, but a just and holy peace. God is on the side of the oppressed, the broken, and those who work for peace. For the Christ who comes will make just and righteous decisions for the poor of the earth.

“Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened,
    and the ears of the deaf unstopped;
 then the lame shall leap like a deer,
    and the tongue of the speechless sing for joy.

A highway shall be there,
and it shall be called the Holy Way;
. . . it shall be for God’s people;
no traveler, not even fools, shall go astray.

No lion shall be there,
nor shall any ravenous beast come up on it;
they shall not be found there,
but the redeemed shall walk there.

And the ransomed of the Lord shall return,
and come to Zion with singing;
everlasting joy shall be upon their heads;
they shall obtain joy and gladness,
and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.” Isaiah 35:6, 8-10

I especially like the promise that “No traveler, not even fools, shall go astray.”   We may make foolish decisions, act in ways we later realize were contrary to our best interests and those we care about.  With pride and arrogance we may boast of our knowledge, when we know little of what we claim.    There is a place on this highway for all God’s people,  including  those of us who have at times acted in foolish and destructive ways.    God’s grace and compassion includes even us. For this I give thanks.

More Advent Thoughts can be found here at Daily Devotions for Advent through Epiphany