Ripped from context is this Scripture for Advent 4C:
2 As for you, Bethlehem of Ephrathah,
though you are the least significant of Judah’s forces,
one who is to be a ruler in Israel on my behalf will come out from you.
His origin is from remote times, from ancient days.
3 Therefore, he will give them up
until the time when she who is in labor gives birth.
The rest of his kin will return to the people of Israel.
4 He will stand and shepherd his flock in the strength of the Lord,
in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God.
They will dwell secure,
because he will surely become great throughout the earth;
5 he will become one of peace.
In the midst of Micah’s prophecies about the Assyrian conquest of Israel, there are these words of hope nestled into the promise of battle, pain and conquest. Words that remind us that though we do battle daily, we can have confidence in a God who will be there in the worst of times.
It’s a hard concept to believe, especially in days of grief or pain. It’s even harder to be told that there is a worse battle coming. It’s akin to an oncologist telling you that she doesn’t know if an opportunistic infection will be the cause of death, or the growth of the cancer cells.
Michael Kelly Blanchard penned these words of comfort and confidence:
From the dungeon a rumor is stirring.
You have heard it again and again.
But this time the cell keys are turning,
and outside there are faces of friends.
And though your body lay weary from wasting,
and your eyes show the sorrow they’ve had.
Oh the love that your heart is now tasting
has opened the gate, Be Ye Glad.
Oh, Be Ye Glad, Be Ye Glad,
Every debt that you ever had
Has been paid up in full by the grace of the Lord,
Be Ye Glad, Be Ye Glad, Be Ye Glad.
Gladness and joy are different than Happiness. They spring from a different place, a Source of Hope and courage, knowing that we will “dwell secure” in the God who Shepherds and cares for us.
Be Ye Glad.