I was just six weeks out of the hospital. It had been my second stay because of a hyper-manic episode related to bipolar disorder. It was also our 13th anniversary. My husband had given me a lovely card--that beautiful man. As I was reading it, I came to the verse he had written from Isaiah 51 and I could barely catch my breath.
I asked him how he had come to that verse. He said, ‘I was reading it and just felt like it was for you.’ Beautiful man, indeed. And yes, we have a beautiful God of hope.
It was verse 11 and it reads like this:
“And the ransomed of the Lord shall return
And come to Zion with singing;
Everlasting joy shall be upon their heads;
They shall obtain gladness and joy,
And sorrow and sighing shall flee away.”
This is why Isaiah is my favorite prophetic book. It’s hope and it’s always breaking through in the midst of exile, severe discipline, famine and utter spiritual darkness.
While I hadn’t been in deep sin like the people of Israel, there had been so much sorrow. My life had been shredded in 2015 when my first hyper-manic episode with bipolar landed me in a Hungarian hospital for two weeks, nearly killing me. I was in the midst of the exile of a gray landscape which had lost all color. Yet, here, through my beloved’s seeking the Lord on my behalf, I was given a precious, rock-solid hope. The ransomed would return to Zion, city of God, and their sorrow, my sorrow, would flee away.
Discovering this beauty made me look at all of Isaiah 51. I found I had highlighted verse 3 before. And this bowled me over like the earth-shattering promise that it is, thus joining its sister in a double promise of receiving my deepest heart’s desire.
“For the Lord comforts Zion;
He comforts all her waste places
And makes her wilderness Eden,
Her desert like the garden of the Lord;
Joy and gladness will be found in her,
Thanksgiving and the voice of song.”
I know there may be differing opinions on whether these verses are intended for the gates of Heaven, when all His own come Home, or can be applied to right here and now. But, here’s the thing: Jesus said clearly that ‘the Kingdom of God is among us.’ And what is His kingdom without His presence? And what is His presence without the fruits He gives--love, joy, peace and so much more! Sounds like a garden to me!
That was a defining moment, reading that card. My soul expanded and I received a resilient hope, coloring everything. Since that day, I have indeed seen my Saviour, my Lord, tenderly, with great comfort, bring me to His garden.
But the truth is, he doesn’t just want to do this for me, but for you too. If He can draw me from the land of my exile and wrap His beloved arms around me, touching the horrific memories of two mental ward stays, then, sister, He most definitely can and will do this for you!
Take much heart, dear Zion, precious Bride of God, He has overcome and soon our faith will turn to sight. Taste the perfect, meant-to-be-eaten, fruit of redemption and make straight paths to Eden, to His sustaining presence, to the very garden of God.
Abby is a small-town loving, big city adventurer. She and her husband have worked with high school students most of their lives! Since their internship in Budapest, Hungary in 2005-2006, they have been working with the ministry of CRU. In May of this year, they moved to Hungary answering God's call to work long-term with the students of Central and Eastern Europe. Abby loves to laugh, especially at herself, has a passion for God and making Him known and is ever learning how to do that with three small children, ages 5, 3 and one month. She wouldn't trade the journey for anything! She blogs regularly at Fan the Flame