Even the wilderness and desert will be glad in those days. The wasteland will rejoice and blossom with spring crocuses. Yes, there will be an abundance of flowers and singing and joy! The deserts will become as green as the mountains of Lebanon, as lovely as Mount Carmel or the plains of Sharon. There the LORD will display his glory, the splendor of our God. With this news, strengthen those who have tired hands, and encourage those who have weak knees. Say to those with fearful hearts, “Be strong, and do not fear, for your God is coming to destroy your enemies. He is coming to save you.Isaiah 35:1-4
The first time I came across this verse was a time where I was in somewhat of a mental distress. You see, life in the past 10 months has been a period of growth for me that started by a shattering of my old self to rebuild a new self. It was my shattering, but God is the one who has taken over the restoration. To be perfectly honest, there have been times that have felt amazing, and times that I have felt the shroud of sin try to take me down. There have been times where the path seemed clear, and other times where I had to check my feet to see if the path was still under them. There have been times where I have felt so close to God that I felt his arms around me, and other times where I felt like He was holding onto me by a fingertip.
In all of this time (over these past 10 months of restoration) I have known a promise that God had given me that my life would be restored more than I could ever imagine. I didn’t just hear it once. I watched as over and over as God made sure that I knew this promise is true. When I would doubt it, He would send a message loud and clear that He promised it and it will happen. I in no way shape or form can say that I have walked this path of restoration in full faith that Gods promise will come true. I have had so many times where it didn’t seem possible. I have had so many times where either things turned bad, or even worse, seemed to be going nowhere at all. In the waiting and in the struggle God would continually encourage me that HIS promise is a guarantee. He did not look down on me in my doubting and say, “Fine! Don’t believe me, never mind then.” He would look down on me with love and understanding, probably crying the tears along with me, and with His hand on my back He would encourage me to keep walking.
One night only about a month and a half ago, God decided to take another approach to convincing me. I was in a moment of doubt again, and I simply prayed that God would make the path known, so that I could see where I am walking. I walked over to my Bible and did something that I absolutely hate. I played “Bible magic 8 ball.” Essentially what that is, is just opening up the Bible and reading whatever page it lands on. Something happened though. Isaiah 35 landed in my lap. “Hope for restoration.” To say I bawled a little is an understatement. Tears of joy absolutely filled me, but as I am a person who likes to consider myself reasonable (sometimes) I stepped back and figured, “Nah, that just sounded really good because I wanted to hear it.” I passed it off until 3 days later I was in another moment of doubt (like I said, I don’t remotely claim to be perfect at this) and my pastor noticed and asked me what was going on. I told her and she told me she felt like I was meant to read…you guessed it….Isaiah 35. BOOM! My mind was instantly blown. God, through my pastor, decided to tell me clearly, “No, that was meant for you to read.” Then last week, just to make sure I was still paying attention. I went to close my Bible. As I was going to close it my fingers slipped off the pages and it fell back open…to Isaiah 35. This time I was able to smile, and just say, “Yes, God, thank you for your promise to me.”
I tell you all of that to tell you this. Today as I just decided to listen through all of Isaiah while I worked something finally clicked in my mind. We always are told to rejoice in the waiting. Now if you’ve ever been through a season like I have been through in these past 10 months and someone tries to tell you that; you have every right to feel the urge to punch them. It just doesn’t make sense! How can you rejoice!? It turns out I am finally starting to realize you can. You see, when God makes a promise. One thing is for certain. It is not up to you to fulfill it. If God makes a promise it means that He has looked into the future, seen every variable, and knows exactly how He is going to make it happen. Your emotions will not change the outcome better or worse. He will make it happen. What really comes into question is what can you control then? Oh, shoot I already gave it away. That’s right. Your emotions.
There is another catch to this. In these times of waiting the enemy loves to mess with you. He will find ways to dig at you, and let your mind do the rest. If he can get to your mind, then he can get to your emotions. I can’t tell you how many times I had to ask God to remove negative thoughts in my mind, or ask Him to fill me so full of the Holy Spirit in my heart that there was no dark cavern that a negative thought could hide in. Over and over I have had to pray that prayer, and each time I did the Holy Spirit was there.
So what I am getting at is this. The promise has already been made, the destination has already been set. It is up to you how you emotionally get from point A to point B, however. You can choose to grumble and doubt through it (which as I have said, I have experienced my fair share of that in the past 10 months), or you can embrace every hardship along the way with a sense of rejoicing. In fact if you tune your emotions right, the worst parts of the journey can become the most encouraging, because you can know in your heart that God is about to do something really cool -that only God can do – to take you from the depths into the promise He gave. I spent so many hours questioning how it is that Joseph could have possibly been okay when the direction his life was going was exactly opposite of the promise that God had given him. I finally figured it out. He was so full of faith in the outcome of God’s promise that he knew all the way down, it was going to be a sweet ride back up when it happened. I am sure he had his moments, but he had faith in the promise of God. If God has spoken a promise to you rejoice! Nothing can be done to take that promise away! As I still sit in waiting, I have a new understanding of how to look – with joy – towards the promise of the future. I know that I can be glad even when the way up may have a few drops down to go. I will rejoice so that when the promise is fulfilled I can receive it gladly knowing that I kept faith in the promise.