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.And here we are again, in Isaiah, listening to the prophet proclaim water in the desert. Have you ever experienced a desert in life? Have you known times when your spiritual nature seems dried up? Have you ever wondered where God is, and why God isn't near you? Have you sat in worship and wondered why you were there at all?
This passage reminds us that dry times happen. I believe faith life - the experience of the presence of God in abundance - is cyclical. I don't mean that God is there sometimes and not at other times. I mean that our awareness of God's nearness - those times when the Holy Spirit seems to burst forth in our lives like the famous ever flowing stream - can ebb and wane. We will experience times of drought.
But these words remind us that crocuses can bloom in the desert. That during times of apparent drought, there can be rejoicing. "Be strong; do not fear. Here is your God."
Maybe that's part of Advent. Maybe remembering that God is present, even during times when we aren't aware of God, is part of preparing for the coming of Christ. Maybe having faith that God IS coming, even when we can't sense God, is part of preparing our hearts to receive God. The grace of faith prepares the way.