Summary: The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light. The burst of light, God's presence, is the basis of our hope.
Isaiah 9:1-7 “The Birth of Hope”
Certain things in life are absolutely necessary. Air is one of them. We need air to breathe. We need water, also. Humans can only live about three days without water. We also need hope. Life without hope is difficult, if not impossible.
In today’s lesson, the prophet Isaiah is giving a message of hope to the people of Israel. Hope is like light shining in the darkness. When the dawn of light (hope) comes, we no longer to live in the darkness of the night.
People in both the Northern and Southern Kingdoms face hopeless situations. Political unrest and the constant threat of war were persistent problems. Sickness was rampant and hunger was an ever present reality.
We have seen hopelessness and despair in the aftermaths of hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria. We have witnessed the pain and suffering caused by the earthquake in Mexico and the wildfires in California.
Most likely each and every one of us have experienced situations that have caused hopelessness to flood over us. The economic downturn of 2007-2008 is not that distant. Many of us remember the loss of jobs, home foreclosures and upheaval of those times.
People have shown that they can get through just about any circumstance, if they have hope.
THE SOURCE OF HOPE
The prophet Isaiah foresees great things happening for the people. In verse four he says that the “rod of their oppressors” will be broken. The next verse talks about the end of conflict and war.
At the end of his message, Isaiah reveals how all of this will take place. He says, “The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this. Our hope is not in “movers or shakers,” nor in our connections. Rather, it is God’s presence in our lives and in our world that makes the difference.
Faye and I have found that a verse or song will come to us during our difficult times. They will remind us of God’s presence in our lives and bring us hope. When our youngest son, Ryan, had cancer, our song was “Eagle’s Wings.” Josh Groban had just released the song, “You Lift Me Up,” when Faye was going through her oral cancer treatments. I suspect that you have had similar experiences. In one way, shape or form God reminds us that God is with us and will never leave us.
GOD USES PEOPLE
Isaiah’s message to the people of Israel is that God will use a person to change their mourning into dancing. For the people of that time, it was the birth of a king—probably Josiah or Hezekiah. The Church has taken these verses and applied them to Jesus the Christ. Certainly, Jesus has saved us from lives lived apart from God and has provided us with new relationships with God.
We have seen how God uses people to bring hope and help time and time again. Look at the response to the needs of the victims of Harvey and Irma. When there was the mass shooting in Las Vegas, thousands of people lined up to give blood.
Desert Streams has “Helping Hands.” In sickness or in times of grief, people cook meals or provide transportation. In our latest bout of health issues God has blessed us with thousands of people lifting us up in prayer, many meals and several offers to help with transportation. Help and hope come in community. Not only to we receive help and hope from others, but we discover, also, that God can use us to bring help and hope to others. (The loaded tables of food items on the West Veranda, for Eve’s Place is a demonstration of the fact that we know we are ambassadors of God’s help and hope.
If you are in a hopeless situation, let me play the role of the prophet Isaiah and assure you that there is hope. God is with you. You can place your trust in God and rest in God’s love.
Rejoicing in the hope that is yours, I would challenge you to do something “crazy” in the middle of your difficult situation. Look for someone for whom you can be both help and hope. God will take care of you. Look around and find someone you can help. Bring light to the darkness and the light will reign.