THE ADVENT DESERT
“I will turn the desert into a marshland, and the dry ground into springs of water.” –Isaiah 41:18
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As the Israelites who were in exile in Babylon returned to their homeland through the desert, God promised to fulfill their needs, especially for water. The Israelites considered their task hopeless; they were weak to the point of considering themselves no more than worms or maggots (see Is 41:14). Yet God would do the miracles necessary for them to have an abundant harvest. Thus God promised to make His people strong in winnowing and threshing, activities used for bringing in the harvest (Is 41:15-16). The Lord can transform the desert into a life-changing place of abundance.
Out of the desert of barrenness and death, God brings hope. He brings “a voice crying out in the desert, ‘Prepare the way of the Lord’ ” (see Is 40:3). Your Advent desert might be a hospital room, a lifeless and desolate work environment, a loveless marriage or family. You see an arid wasteland, but God sees abundant water and luxuriant growth. You see an atmosphere of death; God sees new life and a powerful army (Ez 37:1ff).
The Israelites had to walk through the desert to return to the land of promise. The Lord may be calling you to do the same. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, on your own intelligence rely not; in all your ways be mindful of Him, and He will make straight your paths” (Prv 3:5-6).
PRAYER: Father, refresh me with visions of Your love.
PROMISE: “I solemnly assure you, history has not known a man born of woman greater than John the Baptizer. Yet the least born into the kingdom of God is greater than he.” —Mt 11:11
PRAISE: It was during his imprisonment in a place of appalling conditions that St. John of the Cross produced some of his finest spiritual writings.