I love the Planet Earth documentary. I don’t think I have ever seen such detailed, remarkable footage of nature in all its splendor and minutiae. Numerous images from it are imprinted on my mind, but one came to mind particularly when I read Isaiah 35. As the camera pans over a dust pan of a desert, David Attenborough narrates how this area is seemingly devoid of life, dry as can be. But then his voice subtly shifts and he points out those clouds on the horizon. Within a moment the desert is deluged with rain, and a moment after that (thanks, time lapse) what was barren is suddenly lush and blooming.
This is a picture of nature rejoicing, of new life, of hope in desolation. Life rises where death has been. This is the promise of God—death will turn to life. A way through barren land will appear.
Throughout Isaiah we see this promise followed by devastation followed by more promises. This is the way of God. God’s restoration does not happen immediately or all at once. When it is finally complete, it will be so rich and beautiful and lush and glorious. In this life we experience times of blooming and times of barrenness. But one day, one day we will arrive home and every bit of desert dryness and death will disappear to be replaced by pure life.
When this happens it will be a spectacular celebration of life and the life-giver, Jesus. What does this mean, this death to life and desert to abundance? It means that every tear will be wiped away—every single one. It means every hurt and evil and pain will be erased. And not just erased but transformed, for each of those is a figment of death and will be turned into a particle of life—perfect life in and with and because of Jesus.
So we endure. We endure the dry and the heat and the lifelessness because our Hope endured. Jesus endured for the joy set before Him, and He is the joy set before us. No matter what. No matter how desolate.
Desolation will not remain, and our confidence in that is bound in Christ’s work. Desolation died with Him, was buried with Him, and new life rose with Him and is our hope forevermore.
Written by Barnabas Piper