The desert and the parched land will be glad;
the wilderness will rejoice and blossom.
Like the crocus, it will burst into bloom;
it will rejoice greatly and shout for joy.
The glory of Lebanon will be given to it,
the splendor of Carmel and Sharon;
they will see the glory of the Lord,
the splendor of our God.
Strengthen the feeble hands,
steady the knees that give way;
say to those with fearful hearts,
“Be strong, do not fear;
your God will come,
he will come with vengeance;
with divine retribution
he will come to save you.”
Then will the eyes of the blind be opened
and the ears of the deaf unstopped.
Then will the lame leap like a deer,
and the mute tongue shout for joy.
Water will gush forth in the wilderness
and streams in the desert.
The burning sand will become a pool,
the thirsty ground bubbling springs.
In the haunts where jackals once lay,
grass and reeds and papyrus will grow.
And a highway will be there;
it will be called the Way of Holiness;
it will be for those who walk on that Way.
The unclean will not journey on it;
wicked fools will not go about on it.
No lion will be there,
nor any ravenous beast;
they will not be found there.
But only the redeemed will walk there,
and those the Lord has rescued will return.
They will enter Zion with singing;
everlasting joy will crown their heads.
Gladness and joy will overtake them,
and sorrow and sighing will flee away. Isaiah 35:1-10
No one enjoys waiting. Waiting in line. Waiting for a parking space. Waiting for a sermon to end! And, on a more serious note, waiting for test results or a child to come home from war or a loved one to pass away in peace. Waiting isn’t easy.
And, finally, we are all “waiting for the world to change.” We all know this world we live in needs healing and peace. It needs God’s intervention.
That’s what the prophet Isaiah was talking about. The people of Israel had tried to make God’s plan happen in their own way, according to their own agenda. It had not worked, leaving Israel impoverished, vulnerable, and in trouble. No one knew or followed God’s way anymore. It seemed hopeless.
And yet Isaiah promised that the desert would bloom, the glory of God would return, and the eyes of the blind would see. The Lord himself would do it, so Isaiah said, “Be strong, do not fear!” Despite Israel’s misunderstanding of what God was up to, he did fulfill this prophecy, and he did restore their land and reveal their Messiah.
In Advent, we focus on waiting. Like Israel, we are waiting in what seems like a desert sometimes. Our own lives aren’t what we dreamed they would be. Our nation and our world aren’t either.
When it comes to life, we wish that life were honored, respected, and protected by everyone. We see a desert around us, devoid of compassion and love for the most vulnerable.
And yet the Lord will break forth in the wilderness, and He will bring forth streams in the desert. He will do it. Be strong, and do not fear.
Strengthen the weak hands, serve Him, and trust Him to send rivers of living water to us and to our land.
This month’s reflections are written by an anonymous Anglican.