COMFORT, COMFORT MY PEOPLE
By GRACE SOSA
This Advent season has been one of the most joyful ones I have experienced. I began the month with an exciting new job, working at my church coordinating children’s ministry. My husband and I bought our first Christmas decorations for our first home. We both finished a semester of seminary and celebrated the graduation of friends.
But this season has also brought many sorrows. My brother and sister-in-law had been fostering a baby and were hoping to adopt him. Just before the holidays, he was placed with another family member. My former boss, who had already had a challenging year, was hospitalized for a spinal fracture. My great uncle was unexpectedly diagnosed with Guillain Barré Syndrome, causing him to become paralyzed and pass away.
Any of these events in isolation would not have been too much for me to handle. But they seemed to happen one after another. Last week, one of my best friends from high school lost her father, leaving her and her middle-school-aged brother with no living parents. When I got the call, I broke down in my office. The weight of this news, paired with the other events, was too much for me to handle.
The thing is, none of these events directly affected me. I didn’t lose an immediate family member. I did not have any illness. And yet, I was broken for these people who meant so much to me.
Yet, amid sorrows such as these and even greater tragedies, I have to believe that God is still present with us. God was present with my brother and sister-in-law, allowing them to babysit for the aunt who is now taking care of the baby. God was present with my boss as she was showered with prayers, cards, and flowers in the hospital.
God was present at my great-uncle’s funeral as his family threw wrapping paper balls at each other, continuing his favorite Christmas tradition. And God was present in my office the day I got that phone call. God was present as my pastor offered a hug, a prayer, and a listening ear.
On Sunday, my husband and I went to the Abilene Opera Association’s performance of Handel’s Messiah. Still struggling with feelings of sorrow, I listened to the beloved songs in a new way, clinging to the line, “Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God.”
The lyrics of “Comfort Ye” come from one of my favorite passages in scripture, Isaiah 40. In fact, my favorite verse for many years was Isaiah 40:31, “those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”
For so long, I clung to the words at the end of the chapter: “strength,” “soar,” and “run.” But in light of my circumstances, I found a new appreciation for the beginning of Isaiah 40, drawing hope from the word “comfort.”
The Advent season is a time for hope and joy and love. But it is also a time for comfort. May we receive it from God and share it with one another.
Grace Sosa is coordinator for children’s ministry at First Central Presbyterian Church and a student at Logsdon Seminary.