2 It shall blossom abundantly, and rejoice even with joy and singing; the glory of Lebanon shall be given unto it, the excellency of Carmel and Sharon: they shall see the glory of Jehovah, the excellency of our God. 3 Strengthen ye the weak hands, and confirm the feeble knees. 4 Say to them that are of a fearful heart, Be strong, fear not: behold, your God will come with vengeance, with the recompense of God; he will come and save you. Isaiah 35: 1-4
Deserts come in our lives. Dry places come in our lives. Sometimes we have experiences like the hot and dry desert. Sometimes in our lives we face trouble – something so troubling, something so disturbing and disconcerting that it feels like someone has flung us into a hot, dry desert with little or no relief. Sometimes we face debilitating physical ailments that seem to drain the life out us.
Particularly for older individuals who used to enjoy walking or sewing, or drawing. Arthritis has set in and now they can barely straighten their hands and legs out. They are facing the desert of grief and loss – loss of activities they used to enjoy. Sometimes it’s the loss of independence. When you wanted to go somewhere, you just jumped in the car and went. But now you have to wait for someone to come and get you. It feels like a long, hot, dry desert.
Sometimes our life feels like the semi-arid desert. We are in a dry place, but we get a few drops of rain every now and then. Just when you began to feel like no one cared, or that you are becoming a burden or life has just become a drag – some small blessing comes your way and you begin to feel small drops of relief. Someone sends you a card expressing gratitude for your years of service. Some little child brings you a fist full of dandelions and tells you, “The pretty flowers are for you because you are so nice…” Or maybe nobody notices, but you hear an encouraging word on the radio and you are reminded that even in the midst of your desert, God is with you.
Sometimes life is like a coastal desert. It gets hot, but it also is enough cool, shelter and rain to help us to make it through. Have you ever felt like you were under the gun – under so much pressure – deadlines to meet, obligations to fulfill, expectations to meet, responsibilities to carry out? Have you ever felt burdened down, but at the same time feeling, “With the grace and help of almighty God, I can make it!”
We are in a place where we are getting just enough encouragement, just enough support, just enough inspiration where we can press our way and make it. It’s not the ideal place, but at least you aren’t stuck. Sometimes the desert can make you feel stuck – make you feel like there is no way out – make you feel like you are just spinning your wheels. You’ve been working the same job for over 20 years and you still feel unfulfilled. You’ve been following the same routine most of your life and you feel absolutely bored and ready for a change but don’t know how to turn the corner. You wake up each morning and there’s this nagging, dull pain that something is missing – in the desert.
Quite possibly, however, one of the worst deserts may be the cold desert – that place that is dark and snowy – where the sun is anemic and very few plants can survive. That place has lots of snow and rain. That cold place – that lonely place that dead place. Sometimes we walk through the cold deserts of life – separation and or death, grief, irreconcilable differences, broken relationships, broken dreams, damaged self- perceptions, self- loathing, tormenting thoughts, feelings of hopelessness and helplessness – cold deserts in life.
The people in our text had probably experienced each kind of desert, symbolically as they endured attacks and imprisonment from enemy nations. As they saw their great nation defeated, their temple destroyed, their places of worship desecrated, their families ripped apart – all that they held dear trampled upon – they were standing in the need of deliverance and vindication.
Hurt, defeated, lonely and on the verge of giving up – God sent a word of refreshing to his beaten down oppressed people. He said to Isaiah,
1 The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad; and the desert shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose.Sometimes life can leave individuals feeling robbed, beaten, defeated, ashamed and dead. But God’s Word declares something that appears to be impossible. God’s Word declares that He will take that old dry, cold, cracked land and make it like fresh topsoil so that it may blossom like a rose.
2 It shall blossom abundantly, and rejoice even with joy and singing; the glory of Lebanon shall be given unto it, the excellency of Carmel and Sharon: they shall see the glory of Jehovah, the excellency of our God.
3 Strengthen ye the weak hands, and confirm the feeble knees.
4 Say to them that are of a fearful heart, Be strong, fear not: behold, your God will come with vengeance, with the recompense of God; he will come and save you.
Roses don’t blossom in the desert. Roses need lots of water, good soil and pruning. In our lives, the rain or the trials that come can help roses to blossom in us. The scripture says that we, “glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulations produce perseverance, and perseverance character, and character hope” and our hope in Christ will not leave us disappointed (Romans 5: 1-5).
No one likes trials, but they are like the much needed rain in the desert. Trials teach us how to learn to lean and depend upon the Lord. Trials give us the strength we need to make it in this life. When we come through the storms of life, God produces beautiful flowers or roses in us – the rose of compassion, the rose of faith, the rose of hope, the rose of maturity, the rose endurance, the rose of patience. If we will let Him, He’ll prune away the thorns of bitterness that try to take up residence in our hearts, tearing away at the fabric of our lives.
If we’ll allow Him, He’ll prune away the thorns of apathy that sometimes develop when we feel like there’s no use any longer. The fire in the crucible of life can either melt you and burn away the impurities, making you shine like pure gold or make you hard, cold and bitter, not better.
God’s Word declares that He will give us springs in the desert. He will make a road in the wilderness. He will make the crooked places straight. Isaiah wanted the people to know that when Messiah comes, He will make all that is wrong, right. When Messiah comes, He will make the sick well, the blind see, the lame walk, the deaf hear, the blind see.
Jesus the Messiah has come and is coming again. He wants to make you whole. He wants to heal you. He wants to help you to hear – hear His will for your life, His Word for your life, hear His promises for your life. He wants you to see – to see His blessings for you – see His way for you – see His love for you. The Lord wants to take your desert life and make it blossom as the rose. Messiah has come and He’s coming back again – will you be ready for Him?
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Until Next Wednesday,
In Faith, Hope and Perseverance,