Advent Reading Day 2 – Daybreak

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders.  And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.  Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end.” Isaiah 9

When it gets dark here in Addis Ababa, it gets really, really dark.  We have frequent blackouts that go on for hours into the night and when it happens everything is pitch black.  There are no street lights or light pollution coming from other sources – it is dark, really dark even with 5 million neighbors.   It is during those nights that many times we opt for an early bedtime as our rechargeable lantern starts to fade and the nostalgia of times spent camping becomes more of an annoyance than a wonderful memory.

When it gets that dark, its hard to have hope for the night.  It is a little freaky and disorienting.  In those moments we know that in 10 hours it will be daylight and our home will be flooded with light, yet the waiting for that time to come can feel unsettling.  It is funny how even in the third world we rely on electricity so heavily that without it we feel at a loss.

But, what if we didn’t have hope that daybreak was right around the corner.  What if the darkness persisted not for hours, but rather for years, decades and centuries.  How could we hold on to hope, then?  This is true for many around the world as you and I read this.  There are many for whom there is no light.  The lantern of hope was extinguished years before now and they sit in darkness, unsure that there even is such a thing as daybreak.  They are the victims of injustice, the overwhelmed, the impoverished, the ones who have been lied to and bought into the lie, the spiritually blind, the chronically ill, the broken, the disadvantaged, and the silent sufferers.   They are spread all around the world.  Some live in my backyard and others live in yours.  It is to a group such as them that Isaiah prophesied 500 years before Jesus and to whom his words still  speak today.

People in Isaiah’s day needed to know that Hope has a face and that Hope was coming.  I’m afraid that at times I have been following Jesus for so long that I forget that I needed this, too.   It is to the hopeless that Isaiah speaks of Jesus’ birth and how His Kingdom will rule over everything.  It is to those whose world is quite dark that he speaks of Jesus as Wonderful Counselor – a King who will cause all of the world to step back and take notice and marvel at Him and His Rule.  It is to those feeling powerless that he speaks of the coming of Jesus as Mighty God – the warrior God who will make all things right and ensure that justice is known.  It is to the orphan, the widow, the forsaken and the forgotten that he speaks of Jesus as the Everlasting Father – the eternal, compassionate provider and protector of the vulnerable, the forgotten and voiceless.   And, it is to the broken and the war torn that he brings good news of Jesus as the Prince of Peace – the One who will bring wholeness to individuals and to whole societies as they embrace His Kingdom and the transformation He brings.  To the hopeless the message is shouted from the rooftop that there not only is reason to Hope, but Hope has a Face and a Name.   Generation after generation would hold on to this hope until Jesus’ arrival and the fulfillment of the promise.

Perhaps life has been too easy for me to fully embrace the power behind Isaiah’s proclamation of hope.  Jesus, may I know you more fully this Advent as the Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father and Prince of Peace.   But, may I also be making You known to those who spend much of their time living in a very dark world.

Prayer:  Jesus, I am surrounded by so much comfort and so many distractions that at times it is hard to contemplate what the thirst of true darkness and hopelessness feels like.  If I am honest I see that it is not that I don’t experience it, but rather it is often covered over by distraction, entertainment and illusion.   I pray that you would give me a deeper understanding of the fullness of who You are and the depths of my hopelessness without You.  And, then from that place, empower me to declare The Good News of your coming with those around me.  AMEN.

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