The poor and needy search for water, but there is none; their tongues are parched with thirst. But I the Lord will answer them; I, the God of Israel, will not forsake them…I will turn the desert into pools of water, and the parched ground into springs…so that people may see and know, may consider and understand, that the hand of the Lord has done this, that the Holy One of Israel has created it. - Isaiah 41:17-20
Boy, these pre-Christmas days of Advent sure are filled with a lot of bleak mid-Winter warnings from Isaiah. It’s a good thing we don’t solely focus on his chapter of the Bible during these weeks. If we did, we might be led to think the Christmas spirit is in short supply and things don’t look so good for us.
And, quite frankly, that’s exactly what a good many of us are feeling these days as the horrible realities of COVID continue to be so daunting. We’re looking for relief, for a sense of normalcy, for businesses and economy to return, for the grief and pain of such immense loss each day to end, and to be able to openly and freely be with our loved ones for the holidays. We are indeed poor and thirsty, we’re looking for water, and it is hard to find.
Yet our faith informs us, even through tough words from prophets like Isaiah, that God hears, God knows, and God sends relief. It may come more slowly than we wish, but then God’s ways are not our ways. Yet, in the fullness of time relief, renewal, healing, and new life do come. We must have faith, be persistent, be patient, be courageous, and be hopeful.
When it all ultimately does change, as it has so many times before throughout bleak times in history, it should move us to action. When Emmanuel comes, things don’t stop; they just begin. Emmanuel doesn’t grow up to do his work alone, he enlists people to work with him and carry on the work after he’s gone. God’s restorative work in the world should move us to be co-creators in the great cosmic work of God, as well.
When the desert is turned into pools of water and the parched ground into springs, when Emmanuel is born and gives sight, restores hearing, grants forgiveness, and overcomes death, we should offer our praise and give thanks because we understand that this is God at work.
Then, we need to get to work, as well.
God Of Restoration, move us to offer our praise at the changing of the world from darkness to light and grant us inspiration to be co-creators with you in the work of that change.