pushed down by Ivan’s wins. They look at the death of a promising high school athlete because of a drunk driver, and they ask, “How is this good?” I must confess that I do not know. I do know, however, that we worship a God who took the greatest evil, the death of God’s son, and turned it into the greatest good, the gift of salvation for all humankind. If God has done that, then God can create good out of the tragedies of our lives.


The prophet Isaiah speaks words of hope to the people of Israel. The desert shall burst into bloom like a crocus, water will gush forth in the wilderness and streams in the desert, and the burning sand will become a pool. These are images of hope to a people dried up by pain and suffering.

Hope is an essential quality of life. Life—abundant life—is mutated into mere existence at its absence. Perhaps you have encountered a person devoid of hope—you may have even been that person. Such a person goes through the motions of life, but is not living. There is a profound emptiness in that person’s life.

Hope is important for life, but it is equally important that we hope is the right thing. Some people place all of their hope in the illusion that they will someday win the lottery. At other times we place our hope on our intelligence, cunning, luck, or the generosity of others. Isaiah speaks to the people of Israel and reminds them that their hope is in God. “They will see the glory of the Lord, the splendor of our God.” Isaiah’s words remind us also, that our hope is not based in something that might fail us, but in the powerful, loving God of all creation.

There will be streams in the desert—but it will be God who causes those streams to flow.


When we are hurting bad, we often approach God in prayer in the role of an advisor. We have our situation figured out. We know what needs to happen to correct our situation, so we tell God exactly what God needs to do in order to help us out. The interesting thing about this is that no matter how many times we try to be God’s advisor, God rarely listens to us.

So many times God answers our prayers in ways that come as a complete surprise. Usually this happens because we have attempted to box God in. We think that we have God figured out. Based on passed experiences, our vast theological insight, and our close, personal relationships with the Big One, we think we know exactly what God needs to do and will do. We fool ourselves. God is bigger than our thoughts and our ability to understand. God is always breaking out of the box in which we attempt to confine God. God’s movement in our lives and in our world often catches us by surprise.

Isaiah reminds the people of Israel of the greatness and power of their God with the words, “Then will the eyes of the blind be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped. Then will the lame leap like a deer, and the mute tongue shout for joy.” Isaiah is telling the people
Mary Sanders
September 6, 2006
full of grace & gospel.