Isaiah 40:3-5 (NIV)
3 A voice of one calling: "In the desert prepare the way for the Lord; make straight in the wilderness a highway for our God.
4 Every valley shall be raised up, every mountain and hill made low; the rough ground shall become level, the rugged places a plain.
5 And the glory of the Lord will be revealed, and all mankind together will see it. For the mouth of the Lord has spoken."
Q-Zee, a Kenyan friend of ours who sings in a Christian Rap group called the Super Concaves, recently said to me, “In our suffering, God makes a highway of blessings.” I preached these words a week ago Sunday, yet sometimes in the wee hours of the night I still wonder, “Are these words really true?”
The people of Judah had found themselves estranged from Yahweh for three score years and ten. They were lost. They had released the anchor of their faith. They felt abandoned. They wandered in a spiritual wasteland. Their hope was gone. Yet into this barrenness comes a fresh word. Into the parched desert comes water for the thirsty. A voice calls, “In the desert prepare the way for the LORD.”
Several centuries after these words are spoken, a man appears in the desert. He announces the coming of another. This another announces a kingdom within. He announces a kingdom without end. He announces blessings for those bent down; He lifts up those bowed down. A highway is made.
Our friend Q-Zee does not speak empty words. 2014 has been a year of trial for him and his family. His mother was imprisoned, falsely accused of killing someone. Q-Zee’s estranged father was one of her accusers, seeking to profit from selling her land. Yet when Q-Zee went to visit his mother in prison, he learned from prison officials that his mother spends all of her time comforting others. She isn’t distraught. She is consumed with serving her Lord and Master. In prison, in the place of desolation and rejection, in the desert, she has found consolation and comfort from God. In turn, she imparts words of comfort to others.
What comfort do you need this Christmas season? Where are you feeling oppressed and overwhelmed? What broken relationship has sent you reeling? What source of suffering has thrown you to the ground? Friend, the God of Israel, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ comes on a highway and meets us in our places of disconsolation and disquietude. God meets us in the desert. All four Gospel writers sing with one voice the words of John the Baptizer, “Prepare the way for the LORD, make straight paths for him.” Luke gives full expression to the echo from Isaiah when he writes, “And all flesh will see God’s salvation” (Luke 3: 6).
Thank you, Q-Zee. Your words indeed are true. “In our suffering, God makes a highway of blessings.” God meets us in the desert, and brings forth salvation.
God of all persons, times and places, we humbly come before You this Advent Season. We acknowledge our weakness and our need for you. Many of us have found ourselves ‘in the desert’. We have been wandering in a spiritual wilderness. Please come and meet us. Please construct a highway of blessings beyond anything we can currently imagine. May You be glorified in us! In the name of Jesus we pray, Amen.
**this devotional message can also be found on the PC(USA) World Mission homepage and World Mission Facebook page where every week this month you will find an Advent Devotional written by a PC(USA) Mission Co-Worker.