Isaiah 40:1-11

by Eric Johnson

A voice says, “Cry out!” And I said, “What shall I cry?

We’ve all been thrust into circumstances where we’re told to say something to somebody but we’re not prepared for it. Maybe when you were young, after your uncle died your mother told you to go say something to your cousin. “What do I say?” you asked. Or you go for a job interview and they start with, “Tell us about yourself.” You think: “Well, what do you want to know?”

Artwork by Emma V.

Right after the order to speak is a moment of exquisite uncertainty, because there is really an infinity of words that might be said into that empty space. We freeze because we’re unsure where to start, how to order our thoughts. It can be agonizing.

But recall, too, the relief that comes with guidance. “Just tell her how much you’ll miss her father.” “Tell us a little about your work history.” Now you know where to begin.

God wants us to cry out. But—here’s that moment of dread—what can I say? God comes through with guidance: Prepare the way. Go up to the mountain, and declare that God is here. God is strong and God cares for us.

God tells us the message to deliver.

Prayer: Gentle God, help us to bring comfort by spreading the good news of your arrival among us. Amen.