A few years ago I opened my Bible to turn to a verse in Isaiah that frequently encourages me. It was during a season of my life when it felt like one discouragement or struggle emerged after another. I was tired, and I needed to be reminded of the hope that is ours in Jesus. As I turned the pages, something caught my attention in Isaiah 35, and I paused to read it. It’s a chapter about the restoration of God’s people. The people of Israel were exiled in a land that was not their own, and Isaiah offered a glimmer of hope in the dark reality of their circumstances.
The main thing that stood out to me was the use of the word “will” over and over again in these ten verses. I highlighted each one in my Bible. It appears six times just in the first three verses, then it appears many more times throughout the chapter. Here’s an example:
“The wilderness and the dry land will be glad; the desert will rejoice and blossom like a wildflower. It will blossom abundantly and will also rejoice with joy and singing. The glory of Lebanon will be given to it, the splendor of Carmel and Sharon. They will see the glory of the Lord, the splendor of our God.” – Isaiah 35:1-3, emphasis mine
As I read, I sensed God reminding me who He is. He is the God of redemption and restoration. He is able to take the dry land and make it flourish with new growth. He is able to take what seems abandoned and broken beyond repair and bring new life.
Not only is He able. He WILL do it.
For the first time in years I felt deep down in my soul the anticipation that good things might be coming. I was reminded that whether I experienced them right then or in eternity someday, good things were ahead because we serve a good and faithful God, and everything He promises is true.
Things didn’t magically turn around for me that day. All my problems didn’t go away instantly. But I did feel hope rising up within me again. I was reminded of who God is and how He works. He promises good things for His people. Life will not always be easy, but His presence and love are always with us. And one day He WILL make all things new (Revelation 21:5).
After living through a year of collective loss and discouragement, I think we could all use the reminder that God is the One who is not only able to bring healing and hope, He also promises that He will do it.
Anticipation, Expectation, and Faith
Anticipation is about expectation. It means that we look ahead to what is coming and believe with certainty it will happen. I think another word for anticipation and expectation is faith.
Faith is the confidence that what we believe is true (Hebrews 11:1). And our faith as believers is rooted in who Jesus is, what He has done, and what He will do.
Right now we live in the tension of existing in a world that is broken by sin and suffering. There is pain and sadness and loss and frustration. But there is also beauty and goodness and hope and joy. The former is the result of Adam and Eve’s disobedience in Genesis 3. The latter is a result of the kindness and grace of God that whispers to us from the unblemished garden of Eden and points us forward to our eternal home with Him.
After a year like the one we’ve all had, when the brokenness of this world is more pronounced than we might have once noticed, I think one of the things we most need to lean into is the anticipation of what is ours in Jesus.
Peter reminds his readers in 1 Peter 1:3-5 that because of God’s great mercy we have “a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” and “an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you.” Those who believe in Jesus are “being guarded by God’s power through faith for a salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.”
And then in verses 6-9 he explains how we respond to the tension of living in this broken world:
“You rejoice in this, even though now for a short time, if necessary, you suffer grief in various trials so that the proven character of your faith—more valuable than gold which, though perishable, is refined by fire—may result in praise, glory, and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Though you have not seen him, you love him; though not seeing him now, you believe in him, and you rejoice with inexpressible and glorious joy, because you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.”
Inexpressible and glorious joy. That is what is ours in Jesus. Even as trials and temptations and struggles and suffering threaten to overwhelm us in the here and now, in Jesus we have a joy and hope and salvation that is unshakeable.
So how do we remind ourselves of this truth on the darkest of days? I think there are a couple things we can do.
Anticipate the beauty and goodness of God’s healing work here and now.
One of the ways we can push back the darkness of this broken world is by looking for the light and beauty of God in everyday moments. We can look at the growth and the goodness He is bringing forth all around us right now.
Notice the glory of His creation. Spend time outside and behold the genius of His handiwork. Enjoy the gifts of His people and marvel at how He made us all uniquely and intentionally for the life He has given us. Notice how His faithful love and presence fuels peace and hope in our souls today.
He is near us in this very moment, and He has good things for us to enjoy even now.
Anticipate even better things in the future.
What’s in store for us in eternity is far better than we can imagine. The very best day on earth pales in comparison to the countless days that are ahead for us in eternity with Jesus.
Paul tells us in Romans 8:18: “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is going to be revealed to us.” Even as overwhelming as our suffering is here on earth, it cannot compare with the glory that is to come. Paul goes on to describe how even creation feels the brokenness of this world. The very earth groans under the weight of decay and darkness.
But then he ends this section of his letter with this beautiful truth: “Not only that, but we ourselves who have the Spirit as the firstfruits—we also groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for adoption, the redemption of our bodies. Now in this hope we were saved, but hope that is seen is not hope, because who hopes for what he sees? Now if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with patience” (vv. 23-25)
In this hope we were saved. We are saved through faith in Jesus (Romans 10:9-10), and we eagerly wait for the culmination of that salvation—eternity with our heavenly Father and Lord—with patience.
Isaiah 35 ends with the description of a future when “the ransomed of the Lord will return and come to Zion with singing, crowned with unending joy. Joy and gladness will overtake them, and sorrow and sighing will flee” (v. 10). Today, let’s remind ourselves of this glorious, promised reality that we eagerly wait for with patience. He will do it.