Advent Devotionals - December 16th

"Say to them that are of a fearful heart: Be strong, fear not; behold, your God will come and
save you."

These words, from Isaiah 35, were spoken to a people in exile, to a people who had lost their
homes and their hope. Their hearts were heavy with disappointment and their faith must have
been shaken. God had handed them over to their enemy, their Temple was destroyed, and they
lived in a foreign land.

All of us, at some point or another in life, know what exile feels like. It is a time of loss and
pain, of fear and anxiety, of loneliness and isolation. It can come to us with financial pressure, or health scares, or the death of a loved one. It can come with relationship challenges, or with
crises of faith, or spiritual burnout.

But Isaiah reminded his hearers of their hope.

“The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad; the desert shall rejoice and blossom like the
crocus; it shall blossom abundantly and rejoice with joy and singing…they shall see the glory of
the Lord, the majesty of our God” (35:1-2).

It is a promise of rescue! It is a promise that even though they are in exile, God will restore them
to their home, and in that day all will see the glory and majesty of God, who never forsakes His
covenant people.

We need hope! And we need to know our hope!

Hope is the foundation for Isaiah’s call to “say to them that are of a fearful heart: Be strong, fear
not; behold, your God will come and save you” (35:4).

Part of the remedy to an anxious and fearful heart is to build upon our hope for salvation. That
means, though, that we need to know the content and ground of our hope.

So what is our hope of salvation? The picture we have in Revelation 7:15-17 is worth etching
into our memories:
Therefore they [who belong to Jesus] are before the throne of God,
and serve him day and night in his temple;
and he who sits on the throne will shelter them with his presence.
They shall hunger no more, neither thirst anymore;
the sun shall not strike them, nor any scorching heat.
For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd,
and he will guide them to springs of living water,
and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.

There will come a day when all that is wrong in this fallen world is undone and when we stand
face to face with the One who created us, died to save us, and whose love will consume us. That
is the destiny of those who follow Jesus.

So how can this hope be secure? What is the ground of this hope?

It is secure because of who God is. He is the God who, in His mercy and love, sent Jesus to
rescue us. Again, in words that should be etched into our memories, we read St. Paul’s reflection upon this reality as he writes:
For in this hope we were saved…If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not
spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously
give us all things…For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor
things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in
all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
(Romans 8:24, 31-32, 38-39)

To a world filled with people who live with a sense of exile and anxiety, we have a word of
hope. We can be strong and fear not because our God, our loving and merciful and faithful God,
will come and save us.

Fr. Karl Dietze

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