Isaiah 40:6-8 “A voice says, ‘Cry out.’ And I said, ‘What shall I cry?’ ‘All men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field. The grass withers and the flowers fall, because the breath of the Lord blows on them. Surely the people are grass. The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God stands forever.’”
We don’t naturally go looking for the kind of comfort that will last forever. Our world is full of counterfeit comforts, short-lived comforts, and you and I have probably tried most of them.
There is Southern Comfort, and other similar mind-altering comforts that come in a bottle, or in a pill, or in a syringe. They may make us forget our hardships for a little while, but they can’t make them go away. They usually end up creating more of them than we had before.
There is the comfort that comes from being comfortable, from having all the money we need, all the things that we want, all the prestige and success we have worked so hard to build. The problem is that when we look for our comforts here, we never seem to have enough to be truly comfortable.
We may try to surround ourselves with comforters of various sorts, people who can give us a feeling of safety and security. We strive to build the perfect family. We work hard to elect the right leaders. We look up to heroes and role models who show us the way.
The problem is that “all men are like grass.” Even the good ones may serve well in their time, but death overtakes us all. “And all their glory,” all the best things that their lives have produced, “is like the flowers of the field.” Human accomplishments rarely outlive the lives of the people who performed them.
My great-grandfather and grandfather spent their lifetimes building up a family farm. They worked on it until the day they died. Then one day the bank came and finagled it away.
The history of the world is littered with heroes whose life’s work benefits absolutely no one today, other than to make a great story. You can be sure the day will come when fathers of our own country, whose ideas and sacrifice we still benefit from hundreds of years later, will be added to the list of those whose glory has faded, whose flowers have fallen, and no one will benefit from their work other than a few interested historians.
But the word of the Lord, and the promise of comfort that it brings, will never end up on that list. “The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God stands forever.” The life’s work of Jesus Christ is no less relevant today than it was 2000 years ago. The power of his gospel to touch our hearts and bring us faith is no less effective today than when he first issued the Great Commission. The forgiveness of sins his gospel promises is no less valid and no less certain than when those comforting words first fell on the ears of his disciples in the towns and villages of Galilee. It is an absolutely sure message.
God’s comfort may not be immediately obvious to us in the stable at Christmas. It is even harder to see hanging on the cross. That is why so many artists have doctored the picture with halos and glowing skin. But we don’t need such special effects to see salvation in the manger. All we need to see is the comforting and certain message of forgiveness connected to that Savior, and know his word stands forever.