Remembering the God Who Is With Us

It was in December 1972 at the Class of 1976’s weekly prayer meeting in Fancher Auditorium that I first remember reflecting on Isaiah 40 as part of Advent. I was actively resenting that preparation for Christmas fell precisely in the busiest time of the academic calendar.

(Two things have not changed in the intervening 48 years. I still resent this coinciding of Advent with final papers and exams. And I still read Isaiah as part of Advent preparation.)

It was the final section of chapter 40 that had caught my attention. I already knew the familiar Isaiah 40:31 about “those who wait on the Lord renewing their strength,” “mounting up with wings as eagles,” and “running and not being weary.” But the section just before that jumped out—verses 27-29:

Why do you complain, Jacob? Why do you say, Israel, “My way is hidden from the Lord; my cause is disregarded by my God?” Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom.

Those verses called me away from focusing on myself to focusing on God. It’s not about my weariness; it’s about God’s infinite energy. Put in Christmas terms, it’s not about “God with us” but “God with us.”

As we move in this final week of Advent from preparation to celebration, let us shift from focusing on ourselves and our efforts to get ready for God’s coming to focusing on the one whose coming we celebrate.