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Scholars say the very first people who came to America came looking for food. Since then, millions have left their land of birth and came here for one main purpose—to find a better life. A notable exception were those brought here as slaves. Ancient Israelites were exiles in a foreign country against their will, longing to go home. God gave them a powerful message by Isaiah, found in chapter 40: “‘Comfort, comfort my people,’ says your God. ‘Speak tenderly to Jerusalem. Tell her that her sad days are gone and her sins are pardoned.’” While exiled in a strange land, God wanted His people to know that He had not abandoned them, even though He had punished them for their covenant violations. In the midst of their pain and despair, He gives them a message of hope. God reveals Himself in such a way that despite the harsh treatment they were receiving at the hands of their captors, they could persevere and remain steadfast. With the assurance of God’s presence, love, and power to effect change when He is ready, they could be encouraged. God says to them, “The grass withers and the flowers fade, but the word of our God stands forever.” So today when we as followers of Jesus Christ are sometimes filled with grief and pain and are tempted to despair, we can hold on to the sure promises of God.

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