Once in awhile, life becomes a disaster. The ensuing devastation can take years (or even lifetimes) to clean up. A bad government, a bad boss, a bad relationship, a bad habit, or a bad decision—or indeed, even things that are no one’s fault– can lead to a long season of misery.
Such was the lot of the people of Israel. There were times in their history when the gradual erosion of their commitment to God weakened them personally and collectively. One of those times, they became an easy target for the Babylonians, who trafficked them into exile for seventy years.
This tremendous suffering brought the people of Israel to their knees. They begged God for a breakthrough. There were days when it seemed it would never end. But then, an unexplainable breakthrough came. God moved the heart of the pagan King Cyrus to favor the people of Israel, and send them home. The prophet Isaiah waxes eloquent on the wonder of that unexpected moment, a divine reversal.
This is our story too. Sin is separation from God. Like children born in exile who never knew our true home, we were unable to change our lot. God could have left us on our own in that situation, but instead He worked the ultimate reversal. Jesus came as Savior to bridge that separation so that we could be reconciled to Him and receive the gift of eternal life.
You may feel like the lost sheep who wandered into something he couldn’t get himself out of, feeling trapped, anxious or desperate. He knows right where you are, and He is coming to save you. The season of Advent encourages us to look forward eagerly to the appearance of the Good Shepherd who comes to save. “In just the same way, it is not the will of your heavenly Father that one of these little ones be lost.”
Dr. Carole Brown is the Director of the Sioux Spiritual Center, a small Catholic retreat center in her home Diocese of Rapid City. As a Catholic laywoman, Dr. Brown has been involved in various evangelistic ministries throughout the course of her adult life. She is also a professor at Catholic Distance University.