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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Today’s Scripture Reading | Isaiah 35:1–10

The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad,
   the desert shall rejoice and blossom;
like the crocus it 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.

Strengthen the weak hands,
   and make firm the feeble knees.
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.

A 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.
No 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.
And 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. (NRSV)

The people of God are in a place of wilderness, exile. For the Israelites, wilderness can be a dangerous place, a place of scarcity, a lonely place, a place of uncertainty, a fearful place. However, it is not a place where God is absent. God has come to the wilderness to deliver the people from slavery. God has miraculously provided a way to freedom while giving the people food and water along the way.

The prophet promises this exile will not last forever. Although the situation may seem hopeless and desperate, God is already working a way out, a safe way back home. For now, the prophet reminds the people to take heart; you are in this together. Therefore, take care of one another. Lift up the weak. Do not be afraid. Trust God. Remember you are God’s people and God’s covenant with you is still rock solid.

These promises still hold true for us today, for whatever wilderness each of us may be facing. A medical test or diagnosis, an ill family member, a sense of loss, fear of a new beginning—God promises there will be a time when all things are made new and the wilderness, as we know it, is no more. So let us then hold onto one another along the way. Let us be a community that reminds each other of God’s precious promises, made manifest to us in Jesus, our Lord and Savior.

Dear God, give me the strength and courage to be an instrument of your love this Advent. Amen.

Written by Ken Nocholson, Member of Fourth Presbyterian Church

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