The world around us can seem bleak this time of year. Outside, the trees are bare, the sky is often gloomy, it feels cold and desolate. And beyond our physical environment, we can feel it. We see unhoused people asking us if we can spare change; we hear of sickness and loss and death; we hear of people being abused and taken advantage of; the weak being oppressed. All this darkness and sadness can feel overwhelming. What in the world are we to do when everything feels lost? How do we respond to these manifestations of the brokenness of our world?
When we are standing face to face with the harsh realities or challenged or injustice around us, when we feel inadequately prepared to respond to the crises that arise, or when we simply feel hopeless––in those moments, we can be grateful for the promise of Isaiah 9.
“6 For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given;
and the government shall be upon his shoulder,
and his name shall be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
7 Of the increase of his government and of peace
there will be no end,
on the throne of David and over his kingdom,
to establish it and to uphold it
with justice and with righteousness
from this time forth and forevermore.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.”Isaiah 9:6–7
The prophet Isaiah is speaking to the people of Judah as they are faced with a situation in which they feel powerless. They may even feel like their world is crumbling around them, with no real signs of hope. But even as Isaiah prophesies hardship for this people, he prophesies the reign of a conquering king, the One of whom it is said: “Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore” (Isaiah 9:7). He will return and He will rule and He will reign. Oppression will end. Darkness will be defeated.
If the divinity of Jesus brings us comfort in the midst of our sadness, then the kingship of Jesus brings us hope in the darkness. We may not be able to change the situation around us, but we can hope for the promise of the coming king. And so during Advent, we prepare for Christmas, where we will celebrate the birth of our king, but even more, we wait expectantly, fervently, for His return. The Emmanuel who came once has promised to come again. And we can trust that He will do just that. What a Savior! What a King!
This season I pray that no matter what you are facing, that the promise of the return of King Jesus brings you hope. His promises can be trusted and his hope is eternal.