Comfort, comfort my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and proclaim to her that her hard service has been completed, that her sin has been paid for, that she has received from the LORD’s hand double for all her sins. ~ Isaiah 40:1-2
My world could use a dose of real comfort. My life is a mess. I do a good job at work. The Lord has given me a family far better than I deserve. Still, my life is a mess.
Most days I feel that I’m behind schedule. Typically, I rush my projects because there just is not enough time to do a good job. I also rush through my time with my family. I don’t give them the quality time they deserve. I even rush my relationship with God, not giving him the quality time he deserves.
The result of all this rushing and cutting corners is guilt. I know I’m not the person I should be, could be, or ought to be. I’m looking for comfort for my guilty conscience. Do you ever feel the same way?
I can find all kinds of comfort to cheer me up: “You’ll do better next time.” “You did the best you could.” “They’ll understand.” “God knows you’re only human.” I might even find a little comfort munching on an extra Christmas cookie or buying an extra toy for my child to make me feel better about neglecting her. That type of comfort doesn’t last long, though.
Earthly comforts won’t work well because none deal with the core problem. Apart from Jesus, we are all sinners and fall short of God’s expectations. For this we deserve to be punished, but instead of the punishment, God gives us a double measure of his grace. How can that be?
Punishment for my sin—for the sin of the whole world—God brought about over 2,000 years ago. God’s Son, Jesus, was born in a stable as my stand-in. In my place he grew up and lived a normal human life. He never sinned. After 33 years, Jesus took his perfect human life to the cross. At that cross he received all the punishment we deserved for our sins. By the time he was done suffering for us, our sin was completely paid for.
God holds nothing against us. There isn’t a crumb of sin we must pay for on our own. When I am rightly troubled for how I have messed up, my God tenderly speaks real words of comfort to me. He doesn’t offer me a Christmas cookie or suggests that I can do better next time. He tells me he has forgiven my sin. He tells me not to be troubled. Jesus Christ has paid for all my sins. Every moment of every day, I live as a forgiven child of God.
Father, comfort me with the knowledge that, through Jesus, all my sins are paid for. Thank you that no punishment is left! Doubly blessed by your grace, I praise you for making me your forgiven child. Amen.