sleep was fitful last night. so many faces running through my mind. so much ache and affliction brought on by living in a fallen world. sickness. sadness. selfishness. leaving us ravaged. words like cancer, divorce, depression and death fall hard on our ears. it feels especially hard against the backdrop of this holy, joyous season.
something feels so amiss and out of place when our hearts lose hope. when we can’t see a way out of life’s throbbing troubles.
what’s to be done when we’re fumbling in the dark and looking for answers? or at the very least looking for a remedy to the ache we feel. nothing seems to touch it. not really. it’s like our thirsty souls need rain…but there’s no rain in sight.
not a drop. the ground we stand on is dry and cracked with the kind of cracks that pull so hard inward they permanently mar the soil. what then ?
it’s the worst drought in 1,200 years the newsman is saying. crops are being lost. cattle sold off. the farmers are just giving up. they can’t see an end. now what? it seems since the beginning of time, God has seen fit to keep us from seeing how things end. easy words to say when we can look back with 20/20 vision on life. not so easy when we’re caught up in the here and now of the story.
in all of human history, times of drought, lack and sickness have been marked and recorded. i wonder if it’s because they permanently mark the soil of us too ? leaving scars in our spirits where we’ve pulled in and withered in effort to survive. just like the dry , barren ground withers to protect and seal in what water remains.
it’s nature’s protection mechanism to keep life going and preserve the roots. keeping what remains tender and alive, way below those arid fissures on the surface. and deep below the hard cracked surface of us…hope is kept. we keep it for each other too when we lose sight and forget. when the losses mount and hope for the future seems to shrivel right along with the parched, dry dirt. and when our faith runs thin and we’re tempted to give up.
because just when we can’t see a way out of sickness, hunger and thirst…He comes.
this broken world. this desperate and needy human condition. all set the stage for His unlikely coming. Jesus Christ, Son of the living God-come to us as a newborn babe. God taking the form of man…because of love.
Jesus became the branch offered for our way out when all seemed lost. He reached right down to rescue our drought-stricken , wayward lives. and to make whole the most afflicted and tattered of souls…and to be hope where there was none. He was the “ladder carved out of that cut down stump of Jesse” as Ann Voskamp puts it so beautifully. the ladder of Emmanuel, God turned flesh and blood- all to come into the very smallest and fractured places of us.
Then a shoot will spring from the stem of Jesse.
And a branch from his roots will bear fruit. Isaiah 11:1
yes, a tiny shoot sprang forth after centuries of drought. when God’s people couldn’t see an end and had grown so weary in the wandering and waiting for His promises to be fulfilled. and likely wondering if deliverance from bondage and affliction would ever come. had something been kept alive all the while ? even when everything felt dead and lost.
i’m still often in disbelief that He can bring abundance from those desolate and dried up places. and sprout life from that hard ground. but He does.
He brings rain that soaks right down into our most constricted and protected roots. and it seeps beneath to our most injured and hopeless parts. the parts that feel impossible and too desperate to mend. and it’s in those VERY places of withered grass and cut down crops that He restores us.
the dusty, most desiccated places are where God bent low to enter. to redeem all the losses…not with religion but with His flesh and blood. it was the only way hope could be revived and restored when all was lost in the drought of the human condition.
and, so it is that out of loss and wandering and waiting and mystery…comes the gift of Jesus. born to us and wrapped as a tender, sweet gift of a baby. bringing Holy rain from heaven to a thirsty world.
with a grateful heart i wish you all the beauty and hope of the season. let your thirsty soul drink deeply of Him who went to impossible lengths to rescue you. Who, even amidst our most desperate pain… bends low to whisper love and peace and comfort. let Him be Emmanuel xxoo jamie