In my early 20’s I had a pretty serious car accident that was my fault. In down town Winnipeg there are street lights on every corner. You have to pay special attention when travelling down town because you might go through one light that is green and the next one could be red and you have very little time to respond.
One night I was dropping some friends off late at night, after a church hockey game and as I was going back to my parents’ house in their van which they had let me use and for a second my attention was distracted. It was icy and I ran a red light, and despite my best efforts there was a collision. There were three cars involved, and after the impact and the car finally came to a stop I just sat there in disbelief and shook.
Thankfully no one was hurt, we all walked away that night, but there was a great amount of damage done to the cars. I totalled one of the other cars, and my parents van. The police came and I told them what happened, and they phone my folks to come pick me up, only it was after midnight and there was no answer, so I got a ride home in the police car.
It seemed like the longest drive back to the house and I was nervous about waking my parents to tell them that they no longer had a vehicle. I figured I would be in trouble, my parents were forever warning me to be careful on the roads. I was expecting at least a reprimand.
The reprimand never came though, my parents knew that this was not a time for me to be punished. They were just glad I was ok and did what they could to bring me comfort and calm. Imagine if I had spent the whole way home preparing for the comfort I would receive from my parents.
Israel had done wrong, and they had faced their punishment, but in Isaiah chapter 40 it is not time for punishment. The price for Israel’s sin has been paid for, double actually. It is a time for comfort.
The prophet instructs the people to prepare for the coming comfort, he tells them to make straight the highway in the desert. The glory of the Lord is going to be revealed. They are also instructed to trust in the Lord, because even though the grass withers and flowers fade the word of the Lord (Christ), stands forever. In him we can put our trust, he will bring comfort in dark times.
Advent is a season of waiting, but it is not an idle wait; instead we prepare for the coming of our Lord. We prepare our hearts to receive him. He the everlasting God is coming, he is on the way and will restore all things to himself. If that’s not a message of comfort, then I don’t know what is.