Paul Thiessen spoke on Isaiah 40, “Comfort for God’s people”. Some think that Isaiah, the ‘prince of the prophets’, possibly wrote both books (Is. 1-39 and 40-end) during Israel’s stormy decline, even foretelling its eventual demise (in 586 B.C.) In Book 1, God is portrayed as punishing Israel, but Book 2 opens with words of comfort and the promise of redemption. Repentance prepares the way for the coming of the kingdom. God is likened to a shepherd caring for his flock (verse 11). Our world desperately needs comfort in the face such things as hurricanes, random shootings, kidnappings, war, AIDS, the disintegration of family structures. The essence of comfort is to console, to help others be less unhappy. We sometimes offer the greatest comfort simply by listening to others, by being with them, hearing their entire story (rather than cutting them off). We may not solve their problems, but listening offers crucial support and can provide at least some level of comfort. Discussion noted that God’s comfort may not include the answer we want, but it may also eventually include the sense of peace we truly need. [JEK]
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