Isn’t it about time for some Good News?
Published 12:03 pm Saturday, December 16, 2017
by Charles Qualls
Life can be so up and down. We had a fabulous Sunday at our church yesterday, as I write this. We celebrated another enjoyable Advent Sunday. The hymns of the season led the way, and the vibrant colors brought beauty to the sanctuary. But there’s more. Yet again, we had new faces in the room. A number of fresh visitors just might be interested in our fellowship. Returners, too, have been away from us and are welcomed back.
These are exciting times! The energy is good, both because it’s almost Christmas and because folks are enjoying newcomers.
However, I have just gotten off the phone with a church member. She is broken-hearted at the cruel news that a loved-one is gone all too young. Our folks have reached out in volume to be sure we knew, so tragic is her loss. In hospitals, the surgeries and illnesses know no season. They keep no schedule. Life can get all too real, even in a season of joy and hope.
Our culture seems so divided, especially where politics are concerned. There is violence and the threat of violence. Oppression and injustice rear their ugly heads and make us glance at the calendar, at times, to be sure what year we are living in.
Isn’t it about time for some good news? Into a world filled with similar needs, Isaiah’s cry for God to intervene went out long ago.
But, Isaiah also had a message for the people. Prophets had a tough job, then as now. For they often needed to speak truth to the powerful and to those whose distracted lives of indulgence had strayed them from the God of Creation. The “prophet’s formula” in the Bible helps us to notice that they always had a word of judgment to offer. For surely the people had strayed from God. There would be hardship to come, and a cry for God to notice their plight. Then, before the biblical prophets were done, a word of hope was part of their message.
In the 61st chapter of Isaiah, we near the end of the book. He proclaims the good news of hope found in a God who has noticed the suffering. God will act decisively in the form of a suffering servant. This special One will bring about a day when the tables are turned on the greedy, the unjust and those who oppress.
This prophetic word tells us a lot about God. God intends to deliver comfort for the brokenhearted, because life is hard. God is working toward liberty and freedom to those who live in captivity. Justice and righteousness will be a part of God’s intended order. It doesn’t get a whole lot clearer than, “For I the LORD love justice, I hate robbery and wrongdoing.”
All these centuries later, we still live in a world that can be awfully tough on us. We wonder when God will bring about this change. Far from perfect or fair, life can hit us so hard. We can look around and notice some who carry so much more than their share of hurt.
But, if we look we also see images of good. We can see people doing the right thing when they could have gotten away with the wrong. We might see, or do, generosity that instills hope and makes the world around us a better place.
A friend of mine is the president of a small Baptist university in the south. He went this weekend to his town’s Christmas parade. While there, he witnessed a man (who had plenty) share money with a young mother (who didn’t) so her kids could get hot chocolate. He also overheard a young girl wonder aloud to her grandmother if she had any chance of winning the prized giveaway bicycle she dreamed of so fervently. Sure enough, the little girl’s name was called. No one could have been more excited than she.
My friend said he had gone to the parade hoping to represent his school and to be entertained. He says that he went home with so much more. For he left with hope that good things do still happen to good people once in a while.
Prophets spoke words of judgment. They sometimes delivered the hard news of impending punishment, usually in the form of God leaving us to our own natural consequences. Here, though, Isaiah gives us reason for hope. God is sending One who will help things to be different. We get to be part of the solution, too. Isn’t it about time for some good news
CHARLES QUALLS is senior pastor at Franklin Baptist Church. Contact him at 562-5135.