“I, even I, am the LORD, and apart from me there is no savior.” (Isaiah 43:11)
I was decorating my light post and the bushes in front of my home for Christmas. A former work colleague who saw me as he was driving by pulled over, got out of the car and began to reminisce. The weather was fairly mild, so we stood outside and talked for a while. About half-way through the conversation, there was an attempt by my friend to turn the conversation toward politics. I rather promptly shut down the subject by simply stating that I didn’t like to get into political discussions. Then I concluded by saying, “Quite frankly, I have come to the conclusion that the world is a mess.” My visitor could not resist in agreeing that my statement contained a lot of truth. As I reflected on this dialog later, I decided that my attitude was a rather dismal way to feel as we prepare to begin the four weeks of Advent leading to Christmas. Then I thought there have undoubtedly been many Christmas seasons during which mankind must have found themselves in a dark state of unrest.
One of those was in December, 1941 when much of the world was at war. On December 6 of that year, President Franklin D. Roosevelt issued a personal appeal to Japanese Emperor Hirohito to use his influence to avoid war. One day later, America was caught off-guard when the Imperial Japanese Navy Air Service attacked Pearl Harbor. The surprise attack, which killed 2403 U. S. citizens with another 1178 wounded, came as a profound shock to the American people and led directly to the nation’s entry into World War II. For the next three years young men were called to serve, and the United States and their allies were at war during Christmas. “Peace on Earth” was not just a nice phrase found on holiday cards, but it was also the number one wish of all people throughout the world. The season gave hope that maybe next year the war would be over while song lyrics like “I’ll be home for Christmas…if only in my dreams” topped the charts.
Throughout much of history, we find the world searching for some kind of peace. We should not be surprised then to realize that even the birth of Jesus occurred during a dark time in a turbulent land. Anticipating the coming of the Christ-child centuries before His arrival, the great prophet Isaiah wrote, “The people who walk in darkness will see a great light. For those who live in a land of deep darkness, a light will shine (Isaiah 9:2). When we consider that Christ came to bring light to a deeply troubled world, the image we form is one which is awe-inspiring and beautiful. For we all face seasons of darkness, and God in the flesh (‘the Incarnate’) knows exactly how that looks and feels. God sent His Son into the darkness as one of us when He had every reason to refrain from doing so. His justification: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).
So we find ourselves in a fallen world as fallen persons looking for some kind of salvation. Henry David Thoreau once wrote, “The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.” Here, he describes the void we each sometimes feel in our lives. The effortless search to find a savior will never be satisfied until we find the one true source of light in this dark world. Jesus himself said, “For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and will deceive many. You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come” (Matthew 24:5-6). In the hours of our greatest doubt, fear, pain, and worry – Jesus was born to take up residence in our lives. “For the Son of Man came to seek and save those who are lost.” (Luke 19:10). It’s okay to conclude that this world is in a real mess. It will continue to be that way until Jesus returns. Until then, we will receive the confidence that only God can provide through the Holy Spirit and His Word. As we do so, we can rest assured that the hope of the Advent season will deliver the only Savior we need.
REFLECTION: How do you presently feel about the state of the world? Are there ways you might use this Advent season to remind yourself “greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world” (1 John 4:4)? As you interact with others over the next few weeks, how might you be able to lead those who have a need for a savior in their life?
A NEW LOOKUP DEVOTION IS UPLOADED EACH WEEK. THE NEXT WEEKLY POSTING WILL BE ON SAT., DECEMBER 9, 2017. COMMENTS ARE WELCOMED.