The Lord will surely comfort Zion
and will look with compassion on all her ruins;
he will make her deserts like Eden,
her wastelands like the garden of the Lord.
Joy and gladness will be found in her,
thanksgiving and the sound of singing. Isaiah 51:3
All of us who have seen more than a few summers have experienced failures. Those failures come in lots of different flavors – educational failures, career failures, relationship failures, financial failures, and others. Does any of that sound familiar?
Those failures can bring many different kinds of pain. I have been embarrassed over my failures. Sometimes I have been angry, especially when I thought someone else was to blame.
The Lord has great comfort for us. He is not in the business of condemnation, shaming, and prosecuting. But it is not the sort of thing that just happens automatically – yes? Sometimes our failures seem to hang on to us for years with no sign of redemption. And sometimes they stay with us for the longest time. I have seen them follow people to the grave.
Why do some of our failures seem to be comforted immediately whiles others just rankle interminably? It turns out, if we want the Lord to grow gardens in our wastelands, we have to open them to Him. The Lord will not intrude on our deserts. He waits for our invitation for Him to plant in our ruins.
How do we invite the Master Gardner into the failures in our lives? It may involve repentance. Many of our ruins were destroyed by ourselves. Sometimes our wastelands were produced entirely by others. In those ruins, forgiveness may be required. In either case it requires us to surrender the future of our ruins to whatever the Lord has for them and for us.
This surrender can be hard for us sometimes. Many times we would rather sit in the middle of our own deserts than turn them over to the Lord for planting. We would rather hold on to our old expectations, our old pain, our old bitterness, than surrender them to the Lord for His rebuilding.
Today, let’s show our failures the way out. We can begin by inviting the Lord into our ruins and deserts. What are we holding on to? What do we have to lose?