No More Gloom

19 When someone tells you to consult mediums and spiritists, who whisper and mutter, should not a people inquire of their God? Why consult the dead on behalf of the living? 20 Consult God’s instruction and the testimony of warning. If anyone does not speak according to this word, they have no light of dawn. 21 Distressed and hungry, they will roam through the land; when they are famished, they will become enraged and, looking upward, will curse their king and their God. 22 Then they will look toward the earth and see only distress and darkness and fearful gloom, and they will be thrust into utter darkness.

Isaiah 8:19-22

Turn on the news these days and you might be quick to conclude, correctly, that we live in dark and “gloomy” times.  Despite the Christmas decorations (some would prefer to call them holiday decorations) that are bursting on to the scene – despite all that light and tinsel – things are pretty dark out there.  The threat of North Korean missiles flying through the air, terrorist bombs exploding in public places, all kinds of personal misconduct, public and private, being exposed – financial woes, health problems, poverty, on and on – darkness – everywhere.

But here’s the good news.

Just like Isaiah predicted long ago…

Nevertheless, there will be no more gloom for those who were in distress. In the past he humbled the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the future he will honor Galilee of the nations, by the Way of the Sea, beyond the Jordan—

The people walking in darkness
    have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of deep darkness
    a light has dawned.

Isaiah 9:1-2

Light has dawned.  It dawned a long time ago.  It is still shining in the darkness.  It is the light of Christ.

We are entering the season of Advent, that time when Christians all around the world, celebrate the coming of that great, bright, eternal, divine Light.

Life is not easy.  It is complex, and messy, and difficult.  We try and we often fail.  We get tired and discouraged – for good reason.

“Nevertheless,” the scripture says, “there will be no more gloom for those who were in distress.”

In the original context, a great prophet was speaking about the distress his nation faced.  But in expanded context, it speaks to our world today.  It speaks to you and me today.

Look for the light.  Look for the Light.  He is still there.  His love still shines brightly.  He still offers hope, peace, joy, and love.  We will light candles representing those gifts to us over the coming Sundays of the month of December.

Come out of the gloom.  God’s love is real and it is available for the receiving.

Let the light begin.

By Paul Simrell

The Reverend Paul W. Simrell has served for over thirty years in a variety of congregational and institutional settings. He is a recognized minister with standing in the Virginia region of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and Canada and is nationally endorsed by the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) for specialized ministry in both pastoral counseling and chaplaincy. Ordained in 1982, he has served congregations in Kentucky, Texas, Florida, and Virginia. He currently serves as the pastor of Elpis Christian Church, a small, historic congregation located just a few miles west of Richmond, Virginia. Elpis is the Greek word meaning “expectant hope.” He also serves on the associate clinical staff of the Virginia Institute of Pastoral Care, Richmond, Virginia, both as a pastoral counselor and a ministerial assessment specialist, specializing in executive, clergy and relationship coaching. He is a graduate of the University of Florida and Lexington Theological Seminary and has done advanced clinical training in chaplaincy and pastoral counseling at the University of Kentucky Medical Center in Lexington, Kentucky, Children’s Medical Center and Parkland Hospital in Dallas, Texas and the Virginia Institute of Pastoral Care in Richmond, Virginia. He is a Certified Pastoral Counselor, an ACPE Practitioner, and a member of the American Association of Christian Counselors. He is a Certified Facilitator of the Prepare-Enrich relationship assessment and skills-building program and served as a volunteer chaplain for over twenty years with the CJW Medical Center campuses in Richmond, Virginia. His avocational interests include playing the piano and drawing. He is very happily married to his wife Elizabeth Yeamans Simrell, a free-lance writer, who is also a Certified Facilitator for the Prepare-Enrich program. Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton

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