By Bobby Switzer, a senior at Goshen College
Reprinted from Advent Devotions
After the St. Louis County grand jury declined to indict officer Darren Wilson in the shooting of Michael Brown, the nation erupted in protest. Anger from a weariness of systemic injustice manifested in rallies, marches and outrage. People are angry. People are tired. People are oppressed.
The world appears to be stuck in cycles of violence that spiral continuously, no matter who is speaking against them. For those speaking for peace, it often feels as if our voices fail to reach the ears of those who most need to hear them. I can imagine that the prophet Isaiah felt the same with his messages of repentance to the people of Israel, and yet, he kept speaking.
Isaiah’s message is still true today. He called the people of Israel to comfort. To comfort is our directive. The world is hurting. The world is grieving. We are called to console those in distress. The power of God, both vast and unimaginable, is as the prophet alludes, revealed in tenderness and comfort. Ours is a God who tends to us as a shepherd to sheep. When we comfort those in grief, we chip away at the cycle of violence and begin the transformation of our world into the world of shalom. We say to those hurting, “I can not know all your pain, but I will help you bear it. I am here for you.” We offer our bodies and our voices to undoing of the injustice that leads to their pain. In answering Isaiah’s call, we must prepare the way in this wild world for God’s kingdom, a kingdom defined not by power-over, but rather, by the ways we relate and the ways we share each others’ burdens, and comforting is a step in constructing this kingdom.
SCRIPTURE: Isaiah 40:1-11(NRSV)
God’s People Are Comforted
Comfort, O comfort my people,
says your God.
Speak tenderly to Jerusalem,
and cry to her
that she has served her term,
that her penalty is paid,
that she has received from the Lord’s hand
double for all her sins.