For a child will be born for us, a son will be given to us,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
He will be named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.
– Isaiah 9:6-7
As we continue to reflect on the Gift of Advent, Jesus – Emmanuel, God with us, let us examine the beauty and depth of this gift.
Jesus is anything but generic. Christmas and Christianity aren’t mere sentiments. The gift of who Jesus is to us is transformative. Consider the words of Isaiah as a starting point. The child given to us will be named Wonderful Counselor.
Isaiah promises a wonderful counselor to people walking in darkness (Isaiah 8:21-22). God’s people were experiencing dark days. They were the subjects of an infamously cruel ruler. Slavery, fear, poverty, and uncertainty were their daily reality. Isaiah goes on to say the people “would look to the Earth” for help. This was a metaphor for looking to the world’s systems such as the markets, human ingenuity, scholars, technology – you name it. But the end result of looking within is always greater darkness.
The reality of Ancient Israel isn’t too far off from our current reality. We live in the most prosperous nation in the most prosperous time in all of human history. Yet, America ranks 19th in the world in joy and happiness. We’ve seen dramatic upticks in depression and anxiety over the last 25 years, particularly in children. We have more money than ever. We can seemingly innovate the improvement of our lives in unlimited ways. Yet, distress, hunger, anger, and fear abound.
For many of us the challenges we face are not enemies from “without,” but dragons from “within.” What we truly need is a Wonderful Counselor. A divine counselor who knows the thoughts and intents of our hearts and can provide transformative wisdom and healing. We need someone to help us slay the dragons within.
What makes someone a great counselor? The best counselors are the ones who have been where you’ve been, walked in your shoes, and lived to tell you about it.
This is precisely what makes Jesus a Wonderful Counselor. He has been where we have been. He has walked miles in your shoes. Loss? Jesus experienced it. Betrayal? Jesus’s closest companions abandoned Him. Poor? He “had no place to lay His head.” Lonely? He lived through the most agonizing isolation imaginable. Tempted? He stood face to face with the devil himself.
For this reason, the author of Hebrews could say to us, 15 We do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who has been tempted in every way as we are, yet without sin. 16 Therefore, let us approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in time of need. (Hebrews 4:15-16)
Fighting difficult battles within this season? Fear not. Not only does Jesus care and want to help. He has been there Himself. He experienced your humanity, but overcame it. He will make you an overcomer too. Go to Him boldly and honestly. He knows what you’re facing. He will provide you the wisdom to walk through it and the strength to endure it.
Jesus is a Wonderful Counselor given to us.
Prayer: Jesus, as hard as it is, I offer you my trust today. Fill my soul with your peace. Guide me by your truth. Amen.