The third candle of the Advent wreath represents JOY.
Earlier this week as I scrolled through Instagram I came upon a post that made me pause. There, with a brilliant background, was the word CONSOLATION in fancy script.
The caption went on to speak of Jesus as our consolation. It’s stayed with me for several days.
My first reaction was one of disdain. The only relationship I have with the word “consolation” is one of a consolation prize. The word conjures up images of silver medals, smaller trophies, a few bucks when you could have had thousands, the title “First Loser”. With this framework, considering Jesus as my consolation doesn’t invoke joy. Instead I am reminded of disappointments…of “almosts”…of “maybe next time”….of “someday.”
Praise God my feelings and experiences do not reveal Truth. Luke 2 tells us the real story.
“Now there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. And he came in the Spirit into the temple, and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him according to the custom of the Law, he took him up in his arms and blessed God and said,
“Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace, according to your word; for my eyes have seen your salvation that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel.”
And his father and his mother marveled at what was said about him.”
Simeon spent his days in the temple, waiting for the promised Messiah. Over the years the coming king had become known as the “Consolation of Israel” – the one coming to comfort and console a city and people in ruin. He saw the baby and knew the True Consolation – the only One able to console – was here, and he was filled with joy.
The word consolation should never be associated with second place. It means comfort, to console one who is in deep sorrow. The consolation God promised through the prophets was so much greater than an encouraging word or a hug.
The Greek word used in Luke 2 is parakaleo, which comes from the same root used in paracletus, which was used as a name for a Holy Spirit – the advocate, one who consoles, comforter, helper.
Isaiah 40:1-2, 10-11 “Comfort, comfort my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and cry to her that her warfare is ended, that her iniquity is pardoned, that she has received from the Lord’s hand double for all her sins….Behold, the Lord God comes with might, and his arm rules for him; behold, his reward is with him, and his recompense before him. He will tend his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms; he will carry them in his bosom, and gently lead those that are with young.
Isaiah 66: 10-14
“Rejoice with Jerusalem, and be glad for her,
all you who love her;
rejoice with her in joy,
all you who mourn over her;
11 that you may nurse and be satisfied
from her consoling breast;
that you may drink deeply with delight
from her glorious abundance.”
12 For thus says the Lord:
“Behold, I will extend peace to her like a river,
and the glory of the nations like an overflowing stream;
and you shall nurse, you shall be carried upon her hip,
and bounced upon her knees.
13 As one whom his mother comforts,
so I will comfort you;
you shall be comforted in Jerusalem.
14 You shall see, and your heart shall rejoice;
your bones shall flourish like the grass;
and the hand of the Lord shall be known to his servants,
and he shall show his indignation against his enemies.
Here is the truth of the matter. Our consolation rounds, our losers’ brackets, our consolation prizes – none of them bring consolation. They may lessen the sting of loss for a while, but in the end, they do not comfort. There is no vindication for the loss and we mourn.
Our True Consolation has come. He made comfort possible through His life, death, and resurrection. His Spirit remains with us to comfort, console, and remind us of the consolation to come. One day our ultimate consolation will be fully consummated and we will no longer want for anything. There will no longer be loss. There will be no reason to mourn. We will be fully and finally comforted.
Dostoevsky described this moment beautifully in The Brothers Karamazov. “I believe like a child that suffering will be healed and made up for, that all the humiliating absurdity of human contradictions will vanish like a pitiful mirage, like the despicable fabrication of the important and infinitely small Euclidian mind of man, that in the world’s finale, at the moment of eternal harmony, something so precious will come to pass that it will suffice for all hearts, for the comforting of all resentments, for the atonement of all the crimes of humanity, of all the blood they’ve shed; that it will make it not only possible to forgive but to justify all that has happened with men.”
He is our consolation and our prize. There can be no greater comfort or joy.
Tonight’s Playlist:Joy to the World/The King is Coming (Christy Nockels); Welcome to our World (Chris Rice); He Shall Reign Forevermore (Chris Tomlin); All is Well (Point of Grace); Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus (Chris Tomlin/Christy Nockels); Thou Didst Leave Thy Throne (Nancy Leigh Demoss)