Date: Tuesday, August 26
Scripture: Isaiah 29:17-24
Verse: In just a little while won’t Lebanon become farmland once again, and the farmland be considered a forest? (Isaiah 29:17)
I recently traveled down Black Forest Road where evidence of last summer’s fire is still prevalent. But during my journey, I noted something else — signs of renewal. Where there used to be the smell of ashes, I could smell fresh-cut lumber from homes being rebuilt. In the charred ground I saw patches of new, green growth. There is still much to be done, but there is no doubt Black Forest is being renewed and restored.
We live in a world of cycles. Summer will soon turn to fall, but we know summer will return. Day turns to night, but we know the dawn will soon appear. So too it is with the rest of our lives. There are times when life is difficult and we struggle to find something to smile about. In the midst of those dark times we know, as Christians, that the light will come again. This is our hope.
The prophet Isaiah writes during a dark time in the history of Israel. He watches as the Northern Kingdom of Israel falls to Assyria. Then writes about the threat of Babylon to the Southern Kingdom, and continues to share God’s words through the Babylonian Exile. Isaiah is give a lot of bad news to share, but in the midst of the doom and gloom there is always hope. Even in the darkest times, he reminds the people that God is present and will bring them through. As we read in today’s passage, Lebanon will become a farmland again. The blind will see, the deaf will hear, the poor will find joy, and those who have power now will be put in their place.
As we talked about yesterday, hope isn’t just some nice knowledge that makes us feel good. Hope is acting on what we know about God, and the plans he has for his world. The people of Israel could trust God to bring them through, even when things were at their darkest. The same is true for us. When we are struggling through dark times, we know the light is coming. When all our work seems like a seed dormant in the winter, we know spring is coming. When the forest has been destroyed, we know there will be new growth, and we work toward our hope.
Prayer: Show me, O God, where you are making things new. Amen.
Action: Drive through Black Forest, taking note of the signs of renewal.
Respond: When have you experienced God’s renewal after a difficult time?
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