August 14 | Bible in a Year: Psalms 89-90; Romans 14
The desert and the parched land will be glad; the wilderness will rejoice and blossom.
READ ISAIAH 35:1–4
In the city of Philadelphia, when weedy vacant lots were cleaned up and brightened with beautiful flowers and trees, nearby residents also brightened in overall mental health. This proved especially true for those who struggled economically.
“There’s a growing body of evidence that green space can have an impact on mental health,” said Dr. Eugenia South, “and that’s particularly important for people living in poorer neighborhoods.” South, a faculty member at the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine, is coauthor of a study on the subject.
The downtrodden people of Israel and Judah found fresh hope in the prophet Isaiah’s vision of their beautiful restoration by God. Amid all the doom and judgment Isaiah foretold, this bright promise took root: “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” (Isaiah 35:1-2).
No matter our situation today, we too can rejoice in the beautiful ways our heavenly Father restores us with fresh hope, including through His creation. When we feel down, reflecting on His glory and splendor will bolster us. “Strengthen the feeble hands, steady the knees that give way,” Isaiah encouraged (v. 3).
Can a few flowers rekindle our hope? A prophet said yes. So does our hope-giving God.
By Patricia Raybon
REFLECT & PRAY
Dear God, thank You for the splendor of Your creation, pointing me to Your glory, and reviving my hope in You. For encouragement, read Hope: Choosing Faith Instead of Fear.
When you feel hopeless, how do you usually respond? How could spending time outdoors in God’s creation transform your despair to renewed hope in God?
Isaiah 34 and 35 provide a summary of the judgment and blessing described in the first half of the book. Chapter 34 describes judgment against “all nations” (vv. 1-2), then focuses on Edom (v. 5), an enemy of Israel, which was representative of all nations. The two chapters are linked by the warning of God’s vengeance “to uphold Zion’s cause” (34:8) and to save Zion (35:4). The restoration of Israel, or Zion, is described as ultimately involving the renewal of the land and people. The desert and wilderness will blossom (v. 1), Israel will be healed (vv. 5-6), be safe (vv. 7, 9), and be filled with joy (v. 10). Julie Schwab