Advent #10: Until We Feel Better Than New
Reflections on Isaiah 40.1–11
I cannot wait for this cold to run its course. Picked it up almost a week ago, and each day since it has run its course in the succession of itchy ears — sore throat — fever — aches and fatigue — congestion — more fatigue — and now, the random, sputtering and, at times, unending coughing spell, leaving me feeling as if punched in the ribs.
I sound like I’m whining. But maybe you’ve got this bug, too; thus, I’m commiserating.
However, I share this primarily because I’m looking forward to the day when I experience comfort again, when each breath I take doesn’t tickle like there’s a feather in my chest and when the stinger’s finally plucked from my sinuses.
The greatest of comforts come always on the other side of affliction, which leads insight on the ills of life.
For how were we to experience release if never in bondage? Truly appreciate good news if we’ve not had our fill of the bad? Know what comfort is had we not been afflicted in some way.
Indeed, the greatest comforts of life can’t be bought or stored up, procured via some home remedy or over-the-counter tonic. They come suddenly, and in their own time, when the healing begins.
In chapter 40, Isaiah’s tone changes dramatically from condemnation, calls for repentance and warnings of consequences, to words of comfort and restoration. Consequently, such has led most scholars to conclude that this is actually a “second Isaiah” — i.e. Deutero-Isaiah — a protege or disciple who has taken up the prophetic mantle.
One, who told the people that they had suffered enough and relief was just on the horizon, when they would see the glory of God in their midst and an end to their suffering.
Still today, it feels as if the word is in an exile, inflicted with some disease that makes everything feel out of sorts, as if we’re living in a daze, with news cycle stuck on repeat and stakes stuck firmly in the ground.
So many, filled with fear and terror as we face great uncertainty with the frailest of hopes.
And yet still the prophetic word “Comfort” is that subtle chord ringing beneath the dirge — the brush hovering over existential canvas ready to paint a portrait of glory for ages.
Until then, we have to let history run its course towards God’s greater plan to save, with more coughing spells to come until the virus of sin and selfishness has run its course.
But in the end, the hope is that we won’t just feel better. By God’s grace, we will feel better than new.