As the three female voices blended, sending harmonies soaring towards the rafters, I let go of some long held breath.
“Comfort and joy, oh tidings of comfort and joy”
They sang echoing the thoughts in the angels’ refrain.
“Peace on earth, goodwill toward men” the angels sang, and…
“Tidings of comfort and joy” we sing today.
The words hang in my mind, like a smoke trail that refuses to dissipate, clarity dawning in me as if for the first time.
Why did the angels proclaim peace on earth, unless the earth was in decided chaos and turmoil? Why else would we need comfort, than if life was hard and our hearts were broken with grief and longing? This is not a cozy comfort, a simple ease, or a placid, picturesque peace that Jesus came to bring. This is a medicinal comfort: a Surgeon coming to bind bleeding hearts and restore shattered lives.
He comes bearing a healing comfort and a mending peace.
”But for you who fear my name, the Sun of Righteousness will rise with healing in his wings. And you will go free, leaping with joy like calves let out to pasture.“
Malachi 4:2 NLT
We don’t need to be anxious or frustrated if this Christmas season does not seem to hold any joy for us. Because our Savior comes first to proclaim comfort. Proclaiming into the very heart of our pain and fear and turmoil: peace.
And who but God Almighty is strong enough to bind the cruel and festering wounds the world leaves upon our souls?
Who besides the King of Glory is great enough hold the broken pieces of our lives?
Who besides the Prince of Peace can still our aching and stormy hearts?
”“Comfort, comfort my people,” says your God. “Speak tenderly to Jerusalem. Tell her that her sad days are gone and her sins are pardoned. Yes, the Lord has punished her twice over for all her sins.”…O Zion, messenger of good news, shout from the mountaintops! Shout it louder, O Jerusalem. Shout, and do not be afraid. Tell the towns of Judah, “Your God is coming!” Yes, the Sovereign Lord is coming in power. He will rule with a powerful arm. See, he brings his reward with him as he comes. He will feed his flock like a shepherd. He will carry the lambs in his arms, holding them close to his heart. He will gently lead the mother sheep with their young.“
Isaiah 40:1-2, 9-11 NLT
Are you feeling crushed and broken this Christmas season? Are you overwhelmed and joyless? Are you buried under grief and longing?
Your Savior comes to comfort you.
Don’t try to push past the healing, the binding of wounds, the comfort.
Don’t search through the lights and the gifts and the festivities to find artificial joy soften called “the holiday spirit”.
Don’t rush into busy to numb the pain wrapping icy fingers around your heart.
Don’t settle for artificial peace dependent on the world around us succumbing to our desires.
Instead, bring your brokenness, your joylessness, your pain to the feet of the One who came bearing comfort. Let Him bind you, tend you, apply stinging salve your bleeding wounds, and in His hands you will find true joy.
It might be a slow and complex joy. A quiet welling from within rather than fireworks pouring from without. But it will be joy, because our Savior came to bring…
Comfort and Joy