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Comfort and Promised Restoration

(Isaiah 40:1-11)

Lesson 1 -- first quarter 1996
December 3, 1995

by Mark Roth
© Copyright 1995, Christian Light Publications

This lesson is for you. First off, God wants you to look beyond yourself so that you might see Him. God wants you to focus less on your problems and successes, and more on His abilities and provisions. God wants you to trust Him all the time, even at those high moments when it seems like there is no need to depend on anyone other than yourself. God knows that in doing these things, you will find courage, comfort and hope. In seeing Him Who is greater than you, you will find perspective in your highs and lows.

In the second place, God wants you to look beyond yourself so that you might see those about you. God wants you to see all the hopeless and helpless in society at large . . . and He wants you to be aware of all the defeated, overwhelmed ones in the church right around you. God knows that in doing these things, you will begin to find the extent of His greatness and compassion . . . and some of the purposes of your own testings and defeats. This lesson is for you.

Note that verses one and two make it very clear that God expects you to be a comforter. Notice in verse six that the response to the command is not, "Me? I haven't a thing to say!" The response proclaims acceptance of and trust in God's sovereignty and wisdom: "What shall I proclaim?" When God allows us to meet the hurting and defeated, the wounded and discouraged, the hopeless and helpless, He expects us to do something about their state of spirit!

How do you go about comforting and encouraging someone whose feet are shredded and bleeding from trudging through a stretch of life covered with sharp stones and prickly briars? How often I have asked myself questions similar to this one! I am certain you have also. I am also quite positive that we will face this question with increasing frequency as society and churches collapse around us.

God is telling us to comfort and to cry out. What shall we cry? Today's lesson text provides us with various perspectives that, if accepted and acted on, will bring intense comfort and enduring hope.

Verse two establishes two immutable facts: (1) all struggles eventually cease and, by trusting in God, produce their designed effect, and (2) there is absolute forgiveness and cleansing for even the most grievous failures. In other words, don't give up now; fight on! Don't give up even after defeat, because our God will abundantly pardon!

Verse four takes the eyes off the black, stifling valley or off the exhausting, breaking slope and focuses them on the smooth stretch ahead. The message here is, "Though it looks like all of life is wrapped up in this present wretched experience, that is not so! If you stop now, you won't move beyond this; keep going for this shall pass! And when you get through (and if you look closely, even before you do) you will see the glory of the LORD."

If you look closely at the rest of the passage, you will see other messages of comfort and hope. But God wants you to see that in order to be an effective message bearer, you must be willing to help bear the trial and affliction of the message receiver. Are you willing to help accomplish the warfare and pardon the iniquity? Are you willing to take the shovel and pickaxe to level the hills and fill in the valleys? Are you willing to help carry the wounded? "Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ" (Galatians 6:2).

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