Hope–Rejoice for All Things Will Be Righted: a Reflection on Isaiah 35:1-10
The Joy Candle is lit. As Christians, we are to rejoice. Yet, many things are happening in our lives that dim our joy, if not completely snuff out the flame. One such “joy dimming” circumstance is abuse in relationships. “On average, nearly 20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner in the United States. During one year, this equates to more than 10 million women and men. 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men have been victims of some form of physical violence by an intimate partner within their lifetime.”
Advent is about the incarnation. The incarnation is the historic event when God the Father made himself known as God the Son. Jesus Christ, God incarnate, was both true God and true man. Quoting John Calvin, “It was of the greatest importance that he who was to be our Mediator be both true God and true man…The situation would surely have been hopeless had the very majesty of God not descended to us, since it was not in our power to ascend to him.” In Jesus Christ, God descended to save…to make things right.
Isaiah 35:1-10 addresses joy. The desert blossoming, the wilderness and dry land becoming glad, was a tangible promise from God that the people in exile had not been forsaken. They would once again return to the Promised Land where they would benefit from the land. But how would they experience the joy of this promise? The prophet Isaiah told the people to “Be strong, do not fear.” Because of the people being strong and not fearful, the eyes of the blind would be opened; the ears of the deaf would be unstopped; the lame would leap up like a deer; the tongue of the dumb would shout for joy; the burning sand would become a pool; the ransomed of the Lord would return; and sorrow and sighing will disappear. The people needed to trust God. Noel Leo Erskine, Professor of Theology and Ethics at Candler School of Theology, writes, “The God of creation is faithful and will bring all things to their rightful end.
New life is possible for everyone. Because God loves the world, God sent his Son that whoever believes in him might not perish but have eternal life. God has promised you salvation eternally and now. Be strong and do not fear. Living in the hope that all wrongs will be righted is important. George Santayana (1863-1952) writes, “There is no cure for birth and death save to enjoy the interval.” The future is before us, yet it must compel us to live differently in the present. No matter what the circumstances of your life, the good and the bad, joy is yours to experience. Rejoice for all wrongs and injustices will be righted. What are some of the signs to look for in an abusive relationship? Lack of trust, manipulative behavior, verbal and emotional abuse, and physical force towards you. There is healing and hope for those trapped in and victims of domestic violence, emotional and physical.
This is the third Sunday in Advent. Advent anticipates the fulfillment of joy in your life. Advent calls you to walk in the interval between birth and death with the future and present hope that all things that are bad, wrong, and unjust will be righted. As Martin Thielen reminds us “Contented people use trials as growth opportunities…How people respond to life’s trials determines, in large measure, how happy they will be.”
John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, vol. 1, translated by Ford Lewis Battles and edited by John T. McNeill (Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1960), 464.
Noel Leo Erskine in David L. Bartlett and Barbara Brown Taylor, Feasting on the Word, Year A, Volume 1 (Louisville, Kentucky: Westminster John Knox Press, 2010), 50.
George Santayana, “War Shrines,” Soliloquies in England and later Soliloquies, 1922.
Martin Thielen, Searching For Happiness (Louisville, Kentucky: Westminster John Knox Press, 2016), 19-20.