Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened,
and the ears of the deaf shall be opened;
then the lame shall leap like a deer,
and the tongue of the speechless sing for joy.
For waters shall break forth in the wilderness
and streams in the desert. Isaiah 35:5-6
These verses are full of reversals, seeming impossibilities, and upendings of reality as we thought we knew it. Isaiah gives us images of disabilities healed in miraculous and jubilant fashion. God’s reality flies in the face of our utterly reasonable expectations. These images, however, are deferred or conditional: then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, then the lame shall leap like a deer. These things will not happen unless or until something happens.
So, what is God waiting for? What do these miracles depend on? We are all impatient for restoration or wholeness of some kind. “Then,” Isaiah says. Why not now? What will it take to bring all of this to pass?
Isaiah gives us cause and effect but a little bit backwards. Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, for waters shall break forth in the wilderness and streams in the desert. What brings about this renewal is water where we never expected to find it.
In the driest, most inhospitable places in our lives, where we need it most and expect it least, God can refresh and sustain us and turn our expectations upside down. There are times, of course, when we might see no sign of these miraculous streams. In the waters of baptism, however, God has claimed us as his own forever and makes us whole. Likewise, Jesus has accomplished each of the miracles in these verses and then some. If the blind can see, the deaf hear, and the lame leap, then why couldn’t the dead rise, the sins of the world be forgiven? These assurances are no guarantee against infirmity, suffering, or the various deserts of our lives, but as we live in faith and hope for the impossibilities that God can and has made real, our words and actions can become just such sources of unexpected joy and healing to others.
Dear Lord, refresh the deserts and wildernesses in our lives and give us hope for your reversal of our expectations. Help us to bring this same hope to others. Amen.