The desert and the parched land will be glad; the wilderness will rejoice and blossom. Like the crocus, it will burst into bloom; it will rejoice greatly and shout for joy…they will see the glory of the LORD, the splendor of our God. – Isaiah 35:1-2
Every day it seems my heart is heavier by the news of another friend or family member who is going through difficult times. Some have lost loved ones. Some are reeling from the devastating effects of cancer or struggling with some other health crisis. Some are facing financial setbacks and job losses. Some are aching from broken or strained relationships. Some are striving to hang on during a dry period of waiting for an answer to prayer. And all are hurting.
Hurting is everywhere around us–the result of living in a fallen world. No one can escape the effects of sin. We will all go through our share of struggles. And when we are in the midst of those troubling times, life can seem so very dark and barren. Hope can begin to fade, and we wonder if beauty and laughter will ever return.
But, oh, there is hope. There is always hope.
Because hope isn’t in something…it’s in Someone.
We can read about His hope in Isaiah 35…a beautiful chapter about what God is doing in the midst of our wilderness.
Isaiah 35:1-2 says, “The desert and the parched land will be glad; the wilderness will rejoice and blossom. Like the crocus, it will burst into bloom; it will rejoice greatly and shout for joy.… They will see the glory of the Lord, the splendor of our God.”
It is interesting, the crocus mentioned here—specifically, the meadow saffron. This particular flower is one that blooms in autumn–an unusual time, for most crocus bloom earlier in the year. It appears unexpectedly with a brilliant show of color in an otherwise monochromatic landscape. Indeed, it might seem to “burst into bloom” as it quickly appears.
Before this unfolding occurs, below the surface of the wilderness floor, lies the very root of that flower. No one even knows it is there. It can’t be seen. But it is there. And it is preparing the flower for its grand entrance—the blossoming of something beautiful and new.
In the same way, just below the surface of our circumstances, God is working. There is a purpose for this painful trial, and He is indeed at work. Even though we may not see what He is doing, He is working–in our situation and in our hearts–to bring forth something beautiful and new.
God works first on the root…then He brings forth the fruit!
Oh, how we need to see the beauty of God’s unsearchable work—to see the glory and splendor of our God!
I, too, have experienced the crippling fear of the unknown, the stifling journey into What-If-Land, and the discouraging statistics that say there is little hope.
This is where I found myself one year ago. My husband was the picture of health one day and the next he was lying in an ICU bed, unconscious, barely alive, and not expected to live. It was easy to fall into a dark pit of the unknown. I longed to see anything that would give me hope.
One day turned into two…two turned into three…and so on. I lived for every tiny victory…the minutest sign of progress…tests results that were a bit better than the day before…vitals inching ever closer to normal. These helped me hang on when I felt the weight of it all closing in on me. Each one was evidence of God’s healing hand at work. Each one its own beautiful little crocus bursting into bloom.
But even more than those physical evidences of divine work, was the evidence of change in my own heart. An unexpected bursting bloom, for sure! I saw the Lord from a new perspective. There was a longing in my heart for His Word and precious intimacy in prayer that I had not before experienced. I learned what it meant to live in His strength and trust in His sovereignty. These brought that hope I so needed and joy I never dreamed possible in light of the circumstances.
Now, one year later, my sweet husband is healthy again. Yet, there are still lasting effects from the illness that most likely are here to stay—effects that keep him from being able to go back to work like before. While our life has changed in a number of ways, we rejoice in what the Lord has done. We are closer to Him and closer to each other. We have a new perspective—one more focused on God’s purposes and on loving Him and loving others.
God met us in the wilderness and that wilderness blossomed!
When you are faced with a wilderness situation of your own, how do you find hope and joy in the midst of it? How can you see the invisible work of God? What can you do to join with God in working on the root so He can bring on the fruit?
Here are a few suggestions that helped me on my journey:
- Focus on the Lord, not on the circumstances.
Remember that your Sovereign Lord has it all under His control. He knows all about it and has a plan and a purpose. Focus on His love and faithfulness and His promise to always be with you (Hebrews 12:2-3; Jeremiah 29:11; Isaiah 50:9).
- Stay on your knees—PRAY without ceasing.
- Stay in the Word.
- Keep on the full armor of God and watch out for the enemy.
This wilderness is a battlefield against your soul. Be strong in the Lord’s power and be ready to stand firm against the devil’s schemes. Be alert and watch out for those flaming arrows that aim to bring you down (Ephesians 6:10-18).
- Rejoice in God’s blessings and be grateful.
They are all around you—look and see. Ask God to open your eyes to the treasures in the trial. Give thanks for all those who are supporting you, praying for you, and caring for you (Philippians 4:4; Ephesians 5:20; 1 Thessalonians 5:16, 18).
- Share with others in need.
As you are able, help those around you. It keeps you from becoming inwardly-focused and lifts your spirit as you partner with God to bless someone else (Galatians 6:2).
I pray that the Lord will bless you as you face each difficult situation in this life and show you great and unsearchable things you do not know (Jeremiah 33:3).
Indeed, in the midst of the wilderness–the barrenness–the darkness, God will meet you there, and He will provide.
In the midst…not just after…
In the midst of the wilderness.
The crocus will bloom.
Scripture references from the New International Version of the Bible, 1984.