In despair because of military oppression or natural disaster, they can look forward to repair. "God will come to save you," Isaiah tells them. Peace restored. The land restored to bounty. And more. The blind will be able to see; the deaf, to hear; the lame, to leap like a deer; the speechless, to sing for joy.
What might have seemed ordinary has come to seem extraordinary. And it will be ordinary again. God's compassion is extensive.
Isaiah describes how nature will respond. No more drought but instead the burning sand will become a pool of water, springs will gush forth, the desert will be transformed into a field of reeds and rushes.
And, as rain returns to a barren land and transforms it into a livable place, the people will return also. As springs flow, so will God's people return to that land, return singing and rejoicing. The land of sorrow and sighing will be a place of peace and joy.
But, what do we do while we are waiting for this transformation? In her Blessings of the Manger, Jeanne Torrence Finley recommends:
In Advent, we reflect on these images from Isaiah and imagine ourselves waiting with Israel for an end to sorrow and sighing. When have we wandered in the wilderness and desert? What would it mean to find streams in the desert and blossoms in the dry land of our lives? How can we join God in the work of redemption? How can we be part of restoring sight to the blind, hearing to the deaf, and voice to the speechless? How can we be part of God's saving purposes? This vision in Isaiah tells us what God loves and intends for all of creation, and the vision itself is a blessing that inspires us to participate in making that vision a reality.