This week in Israel, we are commemorating the Holocaust. We think back at just 73 years ago, what the world looked like after the destruction of World War II. The scale of the devastation was so extensive, that the scars are still impacting those who experienced the suffering and the nation as a whole.
The place of “comforter” is not always an easy place to be. There is suffering all around us, and we all experience suffering by living in a broken world. But there are times where the suffering is so great and is so detached from any sense of ‘justice’ that the grief is not relieved by any amount of attempts to comfort.
In Genesis, Jacob is told that a wild animal killed his beloved son, Joseph. We read that when Jacob saw his blood stained tunic:
“he recognized it and said, “It is my son’s tunic. A wild beast has devoured him. Without doubt Joseph is torn to pieces.” Then Jacob tore his clothes, put sackcloth on his waist, and mourned for his son many days. And all his sons and all his daughters arose to comfort him; but he refused to be comforted, and he said, “For I shall go down into the grave to my son in mourning.” Thus his father wept for him.” (Gen 37:33-35)
Those of us who have been born and raised in Israel since the events of the Holocaust, have lived in the shadow of its tragedy. There is such a sense of historical injustice that there is little that can be said to bring genuine comfort. It has become a mantle of grief that seems to cover the people, like Jacob they cover themselves in the sackcloth of sadness and are resigned to carry this grief with them to their own grave.
But rather than leaving us in a state of grief, God’s prophets call for seasons of comfort. The Spirit of God calls out to us:
“Comfort, yes, comfort My people!” Says your God. “Speak comfort to Jerusalem, and cry out to her, That her warfare is ended, That her iniquity is pardoned;” (Isa 40:1-2)
But notice that this word of comfort is not directly to those who need the comfort, but it is a call to us. We are the ones God is calling to bring His “comfort.” It tells us to come alongside and to offer comfort to those who need it. The verses that follow describe the power that God releases through this calling:
“The voice of one crying in the wilderness: “Prepare the way of the Lord; Make straight in the desert A highway for our God. Every valley shall be exalted And every mountain and hill brought low; The crooked places shall be made straight And the rough places smooth; The glory of the Lord shall be revealed, And all flesh shall see it together; For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.” (Isa 40:3-5)
By answering the call to bring God’s comfort to His people we become part of the work of preparing a highway for the Lord Himself to come, and His glory to be revealed.
We hope that you will also join us in fulfilling this calling, to extend a hand of comfort with us, and be a part of building the highway of our God.