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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Today’s Scripture Reading | Isaiah 35:4–7

Say 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.”

Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped; then 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; the 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. (NRSV)

Reflection
Bearing strong resemblance to “Second” Isaiah (chapters 40 through 55), these words from the prophet are words of hope in the midst of despair. Written to all those who are disheartened and disillusioned—whether in Isaiah’s time or in the present day—this prophecy forcefully proclaims that, though we sometimes may scarcely believe it, God’s future continues to hold a promise for us and our neighbors.

Most of us have experienced seasons in our lives when we have found ourselves in a metaphorical desert, whether emotionally, spiritually, financially, or physically. Perhaps you are even in one now or know someone else who is. You may read these words from Isaiah and scoff, just as many who heard his bold proclamation likely did. After all, when you are in the middle of the desert, the hardest thing to believe in is hope: the sands seem to stretch on as far as the eye can see. But all deserts come to an end; waters will eventually break forth in the wilderness, and the thirsty ground will become springs of water.

“It will get better,” Isaiah wrote to those in exile or facing the threat of war, and that message is just as true today for all those feeling alone or burned out or suffering from depression.

Friends, if you need a word of hope to get you through your day, I hope that you’ll carry these words from Isaiah with you, and if you’re able to spread a word of hope or encouragement today, know that your words may be exactly what someone needs to hear.

Prayer
God, you are my strength and shield—a source of hope even when things around me seem dire. I pray that your seeds of hope may take root in me, that new life may spring forth even in the deserts of my life. Amen.

Written by Matt Helms, Associate Pastor for Children and Family Ministry

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