Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name, you are Mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, nor shall the flame scorch you. (Isaiah 43:1-2)
After the Baby is circumcised, they name Him Jesus (The Lord is Salvation), and take Him to Jerusalem about a month later so they can follow what the Law says to do for firstborn male children. While they were there, a man named Simeon comes up to them, asks for their infant Child, and starts praising God. What? Turns out, Simeon was a faithful man who loved the Lord, and was waiting for the Messiah to come. He was filled with the Holy Spirit, who promised Simeon that he wouldn’t die until he had seen the “Consolation of Israel”, Christ! So now here he is, holding the Messiah Himself in his arms, prophesying about how He is God’s salvation to all people, Jew and Gentile, and he can now die in peace because God kept His promise.
When Luke writes this, he uses a strange title for Jesus: he says Simeon was waiting for the Consolation of Israel. What the heck does that mean? “Consolation” means comfort or hope in hard times, specifically the comfort and hope Israel had in what the Messiah would accomplish for them when He arrived. In other words, the promise of Jesus’ coming was Israel’s hope and comfort in the midst of all the oppression and pain she suffered, because He would eventually make Israel the center of God’s Kingdom over all the nations! That was their strength to endure, and their hope that got them through their present troubles, like being enslaved to the Romans.
We, the Church, have that same comfort and hope in Christ! As He tells the disciples their mission before returning to the Father, Jesus promised that He would be with them always, to the very end. When the Holy Spirit officially came to be with His followers for good on Pentecost, that promise was fulfilled; if you are a believer in Jesus Christ, His Spirit is now permanently with you and living in you! He will never leave you nor forsake you. And not only that, Jesus tells His disciples that, although they will experience trials and tribulations as they live for Him, He’s gone through that Himself, and overcome it!
In the midst of our trials and tribulations in this life, the deep waters and scorching fire we have to walk through, whatever form they take, we have this promise: the same One who experienced and overcame the suffering of this world is the One who’s with us when we go through it. The promise of His Presence is the Source of our joy, peace, strength and hope when things get bad.
- Jesus is the Consolation of the Church; His constant Presence in our lives and His victory over the world is where we find our comfort, peace, strength, joy and hope in the fire of tribulations! If you’re walking through the fire or know someone who is, pray, and thank Jesus for being with you through it, and for already conquering whatever troubles may come. You can get through all things, no matter how difficult, through Christ who gives you strength! (Philippians 4:13)
For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. (Hebrews 4:15)