The Righteous Reign of the Coming King
9 [a] But there will be no gloom for those who were in anguish. In the former time he brought into contempt the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the latter time he will make glorious the way of the sea, the land beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the nations.
2 [b] The people who walked in darkness
have seen a great light;
those who lived in a land of deep darkness—
on them light has shined.
3 You have multiplied the nation,
you have increased its joy;
they rejoice before you
as with joy at the harvest,
as people exult when dividing plunder.
4 For the yoke of their burden,
and the bar across their shoulders,
the rod of their oppressor,
you have broken as on the day of Midian.
5 For all the boots of the tramping warriors
and all the garments rolled in blood
shall be burned as fuel for the fire.
6 For a child has been born for us,
a son given to us;
authority rests upon his shoulders;
and he is named
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
7 His authority shall grow continually,
and there shall be endless peace
for the throne of David and his kingdom.
He will establish and uphold it
with justice and with righteousness
from this time onward and forevermore.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.
I could not get past the first sentence. It captured me and I could not read any further. “But there will be no gloom for those who were in anguish” (Isaiah 9:1). Like many, I have known anguish in my life. Like many, I have carried and still carry deep within me the gloom that follows. Anguish and gloom are not things that are easily taken away. “But there will be no gloom for those who were in anguish.” The words of the prophet Isaiah caught my breath.
This past Sunday, I was one of the guest speakers at an event in Springfield for those who have lost loved ones over the past year. The gloom in the room was visible. It would not be taken away by any words or by any music or by any candles lit in memory of those who had been lost. Both myself and the other speaker talked about acknowledging the gloom, naming the anguish, claiming the pain as real, and then celebrating Christmas anyway. In Bethlehem, Jesus entered our gloom. On Calvary, Jesus endured our anguish. From the grave, Jesus overcame death. Stop. “But there will be no gloom for those who were in anguish.” Breathe in the meaning of those words.
Advent is a season of waiting. We wait for the joy of Christmas, yes, but we also wait for something more. We wait and we yearn for the day when the anguish we have endured will be removed from us. We wait and we yearn for the day when the gloom that we carry deep within us will be lifted like the fog from a cool fall morning. We wait and we yearn for the day when death will be no more, suffering and pain will be no more, crying and mourning will be no more. We wait and we yearn with the confident and somewhat unusual hope that, somehow, a baby born in Bethlehem holds the key to righting our wrongs, to healing our pains, to raising our griefs from their tombs.
“But there will be no gloom for those who were in anguish.” For those of us who know and carry within us the gloom of anguish, there is no need to read any further. That promise is enough.