Many of us may be struggling with loss or grief during what’s supposed to be the happiest time of year. Just before Thanksgiving, my husband and I received news that dear friends died in a senseless auto accident. We struggle to make sense of their early death and try to hold on to God’s promise of hope and redemption as we pray for Him to hold their two boys in His loving hand.
We never expected to start the holidays with grief, but perhaps you are too. For many of us, 2020 has been a year of loss. Even if you haven’t lost a job or a loved one to the pandemic, you’ve lost a bit of the life you knew. We don’t even know how to process smaller griefs like not being able to gather with loved ones or travel.
Lean in and listen to Isaiah speak a promise of hope using an unlikely image: a tree stump.
(Yes, you read that right. God can use even a tree stump to bring hope.)
The Israelites faced a hopeless situation when Isaiah prophesied coming doom brought on by the Babylonians, who would conquer Israel, pillage Jerusalem, and carry off captives to Babylon. As a consequence of forsaking God, Israel would be cut down like a tree.
Not very good news. (Maybe not so different from the news we’ve seen on our television screens this year.)
Yet Isaiah spoke a word which still speaks hope to us today: even when a stump looks dead, new life can spring from it.
At the close of 2020, you may feel your hope has been cut down like the tree Isaiah wrote about. Disappointment weighs heavy as you struggle with helping your kids through one more month of online school, or you wonder about God’s faithfulness when you still can’t find a job.
The Israelites in captivity might also have wondered what happened to the promise God gave David about a king from his line to rule forever. Yet Isaiah prophesied that a shoot would sprout from David’s cut-down family tree, and its branch would bear fruit.
That branch was Jesus, a son of David, the offspring of Jesse.
I see two encouragements for us today from Isaiah’s prophecy:
1. Our Redeemer has a plan.
When Adam and Eve ruined God’s perfect world, God had a plan to redeem it. He had a plan to restore Israel from Babylonian captivity, and 800 years later, when the disciples’ hopes were dashed to the ground because their Messiah lay dead on a tree, God had a plan.
Your situation may look hopeless, but God has a plan. He can redeem anything in your life to make it serve His good purposes.
2. We have a future hope.
We can look back now and thank God for the fruit that resulted from the branch of Jesse. The Son of David came to save us from sin, and today He rules over a kingdom of people living around the globe. His second coming will be even more glorious than the first.
Even if your life feels barren today, you have a promise of future fruitfulness because God works all things for good, and He is glorified when your life bears fruit, especially when that fruit comes after a difficult time.
Better still is the promise of your future in heaven. Jesus is preparing a place for you, and when He returns, He will take you to be with Him forever.
Friend, no matter what disappointments we’re facing, let’s look to our Redeemer today. He has a plan, and we have a future with Him. Jesus will dry every tear and make all things new.