The first time I saw my dad cry it was around this time in 1990. I was in the sixth grade and we had just begun our Christmas holidays in Memphis, TN. It was a Friday and the 5 o’clock news was on. One story stood out that night and I’ll always remember it. A little African-American girl about 10, had been struck and killed by a drunk driver right outside of her school. Dad immediately led us in prayer but was so overcome with grief on his knees that he couldn’t continue his prayer. Now as a parent myself, today-I get it. 22 years later I’m heartbroken as I hear of 20 5 year olds stolen from their moms and dads. 20 little lives that had really just begun. Six more adults who dedicated their lives to children. And the mother of the shooter. There are no words to encapsulate the heartache of our nation right now. 2 mass shootings in one week. Several this year. What is wrong with our world? Our country? Why are we so angry? Why are we hurting so deeply?
You may believe in God. You may not. You might think He’s an opiate for the masses and you may think I’m an idiot for drinking the koolaid. But I believe in him. In good and bad times, I’m led back to the only thing that stands True. God loves me and God loves you and we live in an evil world that needs to be Saved. My Advent reading for today is a timely (coincidence?) reading of Isaiah 40.
40 Comfort, comfort my people,
says your God.
2 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.
3 A voice of one calling:
“In the wilderness prepare
the way for the Lord[a];
make straight in the desert
a highway for our God.[b]
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 people will see it together.
For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”
6 A voice says, “Cry out.”
And I said, “What shall I cry?”
“All people are like grass,
and all their faithfulness is like the flowers of the field.
7 The grass withers and the flowers fall,
because the breath of the Lord blows on them.
Surely the people are grass.
8 The grass withers and the flowers fall,
but the word of our God endures forever.”
9 You who bring good news to Zion,
go up on a high mountain.
You who bring good news to Jerusalem,[c]
lift up your voice with a shout,
lift it up, do not be afraid;
say to the towns of Judah,
“Here is your God!”
10 See, the Sovereign Lord comes with power,
and he rules with a mighty arm.
See, his reward is with him,
and his recompense accompanies him.
11 He tends his flock like a shepherd:
He gathers the lambs in his arms
and carries them close to his heart;
he gently leads those that have young.
New International Version (NIV)
14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position.[a] Do not be conceited.
17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. 18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 19 Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,”[b] says the Lord.
Come Lord Jesus, come! And show us how to comfort those who hurt, mourn with those who mourn, rejoice with those who rejoice, and to live peacefully and intentionally with everyone!