Shout for Joy! Focus Scripture: Isaiah 35:1-10
Here’s a story about ice and snow – perhaps it will provide a bit of relief from the summer heat.
Many years ago, when I lived in downstate Illinois, there was an ice storm. One day it started to drizzle and sleet. Moisture clung to windows, and great icicles hung from the roofs of most buildings. The limbs of ancient, majestic trees bent to the ground beneath the weight of the frozen water. Everything was encased in a crust of shimmering crystals. The sidewalks and roadways were coated with it; walking became hazardous. And driving was dangerous as the salt crews tried to stay ahead of the ice formation.
Our daily routines were utterly disrupted and we felt, for the most part, like exiles struggling to survive in barren conditions. Survival meant we had to improvise. And after about a week, some of us began to get discouraged. We took out our frustrations on God. Some of us wondered why this disaster had been visited upon us. We asked how long our food supply was going to hold out. We questioned how long the electricity would be off. How long would we be cut off from the outside world without telephone communication? How long?
The situation I described is similar to the message Isaiah brings to us in today’s scripture – a message of hope for the people. In the text, Isaiah describes a dry and barren desert climate. Although it is not like the ice storm I described earlier, the two scenes have one thing in common – neither scenario inspired much hope. But in his prophetic vision, Isaiah saw that a transformation was on the way. He envisioned waters gushing forth in the desert and dry, parched land springing into life. He saw cactus begin to bloom. The desert came to life with color and vibrancy. And the glory and majesty of God became apparent in the midst of the desolation. Suddenly there was the promise of new life! Suddenly there was hope! In the middle of our disappointment and sorrow, in the midst of our pain and frailty, God can give us hope and make us shout for joy!
Loving and faithful God, your wisdom exists from everlasting to everlasting. Help us to hear the voice of your prophet and hold fast to the message of hope and restoration he foresaw. We ask it all in the matchless name of Jesus, our Savior, and our Lord! Amen.