Advent Week Three: “Exchanging Sorrow for Joy”

Weekly Scripture: Isaiah 35:1-10 (Good News Translation)

1 The desert will rejoice, and flowers will bloom in the wastelands. 2 The desert will sing and shout for joy; it will be as beautiful as the Lebanon Mountains and as fertile as the fields of Carmel and Sharon. Everyone will see the Lord’s splendor, see his greatness and power. 3 Give strength to hands that are tired and to knees that tremble with weakness. 4 Tell everyone who is discouraged, “Be strong and don’t be afraid! God is coming to your rescue, coming to punish your enemies.” 5 The blind will be able to see, and the deaf will hear. 6 The lame will leap and dance, and those who cannot speak will shout for joy. Streams of water will flow through the desert; 7 the burning sand will become a lake, and dry land will be filled with springs. Where jackals used to live, marsh grass and reeds will grow. 8 There will be a highway there, called “The Road of Holiness.” No sinner will ever travel that road; no fools will mislead those who follow it. 9 No lions will be there; no fierce animals will pass that way. Those whom the Lord has rescued will travel home by that road. 10 They will reach Jerusalem with gladness, singing and shouting for joy. They will be happy forever, forever free from sorrow and grief.

Invitation: If you keep a journal or sketch pad, grab that, so you can write or draw about your experience with today’s devotional. Read Isaiah 35: 6b-10 out loud.

Reflection: Isaiah is writing to exiles who have returned (or will be returning) to their homeland. Discuss what it would be like to journey across a desert.

Contemplation: Consider your journey through life. Have you experienced seasons in a desert? Did you feel like there were fierce animals or dry spells? What would it be like for God to take away your lions or create a stream of water just for you? Record your feelings in your journal.

Discussion: Has anyone ever given you wrong directions when you are in a strange place?

Prayer Exchange: Father God, help me to realize that my earthly troubles are like spiritual deserts. Teach me to reach out to you and ask for nourishment and protection from those that surround me. Remind me that I am headed to a heavenly home where the earthly troubles cannot follow. I look forward to being with you in your Kingdom. Amen.


 Contributed by Craig Johnson, Spiritual Director