All Her Waste Places

“Listen to me, you who pursue righteousness,
    you who seek the Lord:

look to the rock from which you were hewn…
Look to Abraham your father..;
for he was but one when I called him,
    that I might bless him and multiply him.
For the Lord comforts Zion;
    he comforts all her waste places
and makes her wilderness like Eden,
    her desert like the garden of the Lord;
joy and gladness will be found in her,
    thanksgiving and the voice of song.

“Give attention to me, my people,
    and give ear…
The coastlands hope for me,
    and for my arm they wait.
Lift up your eyes to the heavens,
    and look at the earth beneath;
for the heavens vanish like smoke,
    the earth will wear out like a garment…
but my salvation will be forever…

“Listen to me,..
fear not the reproach of man,
    nor be dismayed at their revilings…

“The ransomed of the Lord shall return
    and come to Zion with singing;
everlasting joy shall be upon their heads;
    they shall obtain gladness and joy,
    and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.

“I am he who comforts you;
    who are you that you are afraid of… man who is made like grass,
and have forgotten the Lord, your Maker,
    who stretched out the heavens
    and laid the foundations of the earth,
and you fear continually all the day
    because of the wrath of the oppressor,
when he sets himself to destroy?..
I am the Lord your God,
    who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar—
    the Lord of hosts is his name.
I have… covered you in the shadow of my hand,..
saying.., ‘You are my people.’” Isaiah 51:1-3,4a,5b-7,11-13,15-16

Do you hear the call? Listen to me. Give attention. Give ear. Lift up your eyes. Listen. Though we pursue righteousness and seek the Lord in daily life, we encounter waste places of regret and missed opportunities, wildernesses of vision, hope, and passion. We cannot do over or forget what we wish we could. Our efforts at productivity get choked in droughts of energy, clouds of depression. Our desire is earnest, but fear of failure or retribution takes over, remorse lingers, anticipated sorrow looms. Take heart! Our loving Lord speaks directly into our deserts of soul and experience, and promises comfort, joy, and gladness!

Look to Abraham! His situation with Sarah was humanly impossible, yet Almighty God fulfilled His pledge. Take hold of God’s great deeds of the past and know He will do them again. Nothing is too hard, or wonderful, for Him to perform! (Genesis 12:1-3; 18:10-14; 21:1-7)

And look to the heavens and earth! All God made points to His creative power, the splendor of life, the contrast between transient and everlasting. We were made for eternity, and the arid, sonorous dirge here will be transformed into exalted, melodious song! (Ecclesiastes 3:11; 1 Corinthians 15:42-45)

Where are our senses engaged? How will we attune and align them to the unseen but audible presence of our Lord? What waste places will we offer to Him, so we can welcome His very real comfort?

Father, help me live this life for the next, buoyed by Your promise of ultimate renewal. Help me never to lose heart in what is presently wasting away, but be inspired by the glory that is to come when you make all things new. (2 Corinthians 4:16-18; Revelation 21:1-5)

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