Summary: A reflection on the fact that God often meets us in the most difficult places...

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ISAIAH 40:1-11


Someone once said that it is “only when we are brought to the end of ourselves (in other words our own strength and ability) that we are in a position to see more of God than we have seen.” How true is it that it is often only in that very moment when we realize that we are utterly and hopelessly lost that we are able to comprehend the comfort God offers? For until we reach that point there is always a semblance of self-reliance that remains, a tendency to rest on our own strength and ability (we have not yet come to the end of ourselves, as it were) and because of this we cannot fully embrace the comfort God brings...

Now our Old Testament reading taken from Isaiah 40:1-11 offers tremendous words of hope and courage in this regard – it presents us with a message of God’s eternal comfort – and suggests that this comfort is best known and experienced when we come to the end of ourselves; or, as the text prefers to put it, when we find ourselves in the wilderness or the desert. This wonderful passage is the text that we will focus our attention on this morning...

I remember that, a couple of weeks ago, Michelle preached from this very same text; and in her sermon she focused on especially the first verse with those beautiful words that form the heart of the passage: “Comfort, o comfort my people, says the Lord”.

So to begin our reflection this morning we’re going to have a pop-quiz and see how many of you can remember what Michelle said on that day... (J) No, just kidding... the crux of the message on that day came down to the fact of God’s comfort being given to us – a comfort that gives strength in times of trouble, a comfort that is offered tenderly yet perfectly (and, in truth, is given only in Christ and through the ministry of the Holy Spirit, and not from any other source).

This morning I want to build on that reflection from a few weeks ago and consider the place in which God’s comfort is offered, the place to which he comes in order to offer it – a few weeks ago Michelle expounded for us the nature, reason and purpose of God’s Comfort (from the first two verses of Isaiah 40); this morning I want us to consider the place of God’s comfort (by looking at the next few verses from this same chapter, verses 3-5)... That place, of course, being the “wilderness”.


We will construct our reflection for this morning on three pillars, as it were; firstly we will consider the simple yet mysterious fact of God’s habit in meeting us in the wilderness (in other words, the fact that it is so often in these desert times and wilderness places that God makes himself known to us), secondly we will consider the strangely comforting ambiguous nature of the wilderness (in other words, that the wilderness is at the same time a terrifyingly difficult and potentially good place to be), and finally we will consider the reality of God’s initiative in transforming the wilderness into a better place (in other words, the fact that the transformation of our wilderness depends entirely on God’s initiative and work).

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