Isaiah 35:1-10 (NRSV)
Chapter 35The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad, the desert shall rejoice and blossom; like the crocus Verse 2it shall blossom abundantly, and rejoice with joy and singing. The glory of Lebanon shall be given to it, the majesty of Carmel and Sharon. They shall see the glory of the Lord, the majesty of our God. Verse 3Strengthen the weak hands, and make firm the feeble knees. Verse 4Say to those who are of a fearful heart, "Be strong, do not fear! Here is your God. He will come with vengeance, with terrible recompense. He will come and save you."
Verse 5Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped; Verse 6then the lame shall leap like a deer, and the tongue of the speechless sing for joy. For waters shall break forth in the wilderness, and streams in the desert; Verse 7the burning sand shall become a pool, and the thirsty ground springs of water; the haunt of jackals shall become a swamp, the grass shall become reeds and rushes. Verse 8A highway shall be there, and it shall be called the Holy Way; the unclean shall not travel on it, but it shall be for God's people; no traveler, not even fools, shall go astray. Verse 9No lion shall be there, nor shall any ravenous beast come up on it; they shall not be found there, but the redeemed shall walk there. Verse 10And the ransomed of the Lord shall return, and come to Zion with singing; everlasting joy shall be upon their heads; they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.
Isaiah paints a beautiful picture of a desert flourishing with life, people strengthened and healed from physical disease, and a path that can be traveled with no fear of danger or getting lost. In their time and culture, this picture describes the hope of what God would restore to the exiled people of Israel even as the realities of life showed them something quite different. As you think about the realities in your life, and the hope you believe God can restore, what might you describe? Where are the weak becoming strong? Where is disease being healed? Hearing of God’s action in the past allows us to trust that God is still acting today. It is possible that even now hope is coming to life; keep your eyes open to see the signs of new life and growth appearing around you.
Creator God, you bring hope to new life every day; maybe not to the fullness of Isaiah’s picture, but in small ways that we can glimpse and hold onto. Give us the eyes, ears, and heart to perceive what you are already doing, so that we can rejoice and hope in the kingdom you are creating right now. Amen.