Summary: After Judah had been told of future disaster and exile, Isaiah now tells them of the LORD’s comfort. When faced with trials of life how do we find the strength to go on? Listen to what Isaiah had to say...
WORDS OF COMFORT FOR SHATTERED HEARTS
“Comfort my people.”
What brings you comfort? We speak of food as “comfort food”; food that reminds you of the growing up years when Mom filled the house with the fragrance of baking. For others comfort food is roast beef with potatoes smothered in gravy. Comfort can be a warm blanket on a cold day or a hug from a loved one with strong, tender arms. Comfort can come when timely words are shared that speak to your situation.
Comfort can come from strange sources too. One evening while Sharon and I were listening to a couple sharing their hurts the woman broke down in tears. Buddy, our Pug, was cuddled up beside me. When he heard the sobs he jumped off the couch, ran over to the woman and put his paws on her knee as if to say, “Pet me, I’ll feel better.” It was strange to see such compassion in an animal, even if his attitude was self-directed. “Pet me, I’ll feel better.”
What would you want to hear someone say if they were trying to comfort you? What words would soothe your shattered heart?
Judah was told that they were they going to be taken captive, brought to Babylon in exile. Their future was bleak. Tomorrow held no promise for them. All that they believed in and hoped in was going to be taken from them. God had pronounced judgment on them for their disobedience and they knew they had failed as a people. Hurting, broken, disillusioned, and feeling forsaken and depressed, life lost all of its zest for the people of God.
When you have been spanked by life’s misfortunes the last thing you want to hear is “you deserved this.” In some cases you know you did. What do children need to know after they have been spanked? They need to hear mom or dad say, “You know I still love you even though you did bad, right?” The right words of comfort can pick you up and move you on.
1. You are loved
There was no sense in Isaiah shaking a finger at the people and saying, “Didn’t I tell you this would happen?” The time for scolding was done. Now God wanted to send another message: “Comfort, comfort my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and proclaim to her that her hard service has been completed, that her sin has been paid for, that she has received from the LORD’s hand double for all her sins” (vv. 1-2).
Comfort is not a pat on the back or the sympathy of a good friend. Not in this case. The word “comfort” comes from Latin and is actually two words: com fortis. Translated literally it means “with strength.” To comfort then is to give strength. God’s intention in giving comfort to his people is to give them strength to do what needs to be done. When that strength is given the sorrow of our shattered hearts is not as heavy and we can go on.
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus begins with the Beatitudes. He said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted” (Mt. 5:3-4). We know that all the “blessed” people are one person. There is a progression in this passage. Those who are poor in spirit are those who have recognized their spiritual poverty, how lost they are without Jesus. Those who mourn are the same people who now realize how sad it is to be without Jesus. They will be comforted. Or in other words, they will be strengthened by God to keep going in the spiritual journey. They are blessed.
What the LORD wanted Judah to know was that just because he had to discipline them for their spiritual failure, he still loved them. Take comfort in this: You are loved.
When we have experienced the disappointments of life, a lost job, a broken relationship, death in the family, God wants you to know he still loves you. Nothing in this life can separate you from the love of God (Romans 8: 39).
2. Three Voices to Comfort You
The LORD said to Isaiah…comfort…speak…proclaim to Jerusalem that God loves his people. Words are sometimes necessary to comfort our sagging spirits. There are three voices that speak in verses 3-11 to give comfort.
a) Prepare the way – The first voice cries out, “In the desert prepare the way for the LORD; make straight in the wilderness a highway for our God…” (v. 3).
There is an old Babylonian hymn that says: “Make Nabu’s way good, renew his road. Make straight his path, hew him out a track.” In the ancient world when a king would come to visit, the king’s men would start out months ahead of time to go through the wilderness and prepare the road. These men would remove obstacles, fill in dips in the road, and dig through small hills if necessary so that the king would not be hindered. For the privileged city the reward was to see the king coming in all his royal glory.