“A people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone” (Isa. 9:2).
Much of our life of faith is spent living in between God’s promise and its future fulfillment. All through the Bible, God makes big promises and then asks his people to live in faith. God promised Abraham he would be the father of a great nation when he had not even had a child yet and was already 75 years old (Gen. 12:1–4). It would be over 20 years before this promise was fulfilled.
This is the season of Advent. It is a joyous time as the church celebrates the coming of the Messiah to fulfill all that God had promised in the Old Covenant. Yet there is an uneasiness that attends our celebrations. We rejoice at the gracious gift of the Lord Jesus Christ, “born to set thy people free…” We who by faith have received this gracious gift can testify to the affirmation, “Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!” (Psa. 34:8). Yet there is a gnawing reality that there is more!
Even as we sing about “the most wonderful time of the year,” there is physical pain, emotional heartache that attends our souls. We mourn the losses that the years have brought, or the challenges and difficulties that the present brings. For many of us, this is hardly the “happiest season of all!”
But there is also great comfort in this celebration of the incarnation of the second person of the Trinity, he who is Immanuel, God with us. We sang of this yesterday in our opening hymn. “Come to earth to taste our sadness, he whose glories knew no end; by his life he brings us gladness, our Redeemer, Shepherd, Friend.” And as our passage reminded us, “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin” (Heb. 4:15).
God promised through Isaiah that “a people who walked in darkness have seen a great light.” That light was still centuries away from dawning, but his brightness so great that it could pierce the corridors of time and bring hope, comfort and joy to a people who would continue to walk in darkness.
Perhaps you are struggling as this Advent season begins, not knowing how you will find the strength to embrace the good news that God has come in the flesh. Maybe you remain in that “dark night of the soul,” a place shrouded in the pain and misery of this sin-wrecked world. Take heart! You do not need to search your soul to find that joy and hope promised long ago, but now revealed to us in Jesus. During this Advent and Christmas season, you need only gaze upon the One who came, “born a child and yet a king.” He is the “joy of every longing heart.”
May that great light that shone in the Lord Jesus Christ pierce your hearts and souls, and may you be filled with the true wonder of the seasons. “From our fears and sins release us, let us find our rest in thee.”