Advent Reflection 12: Captive

[Another special guest post by ChristiAnna Coats. Check out her new book here.]

“The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad; the desert shall rejoice and blossom like the crocus; it shall blossom abundantly and rejoice with joy and singing” (Isa. 35:1-2)

In approximately 700 BC Israel had found itself under captivity once again.  After the miraculous exodus through the Red Sea, the tribes are scattered, many are enslaved, and hope is fading.

Centuries later in 2010, land has been donated in India for a children’s home and discipleship training center, but the water in the region is so scarce, it seemed impractical to continue what God had called the ministers to do. The task ahead seemed hopeless. They considered giving up…

Is there any emotion quite as debilitating as hopelessness?

Hopelessness is the papers, the final papers, for a broken promise. Forever had seemed so possible. When did that change? Neither one could pinpoint exactly how. She wanted to blame his job, but if she were really honest, it really began before that. Way before that. It was probably the first time she chose to wallow in being right. It had felt so good not to concede that time; compromise had become so uninteresting.

Hopelessness is the fateful oncology report. “…nothing more we can do.” The doctor’s words both before and after didn’t seem relevant. He had been so sure of the trial. Even his practiced eyes shifted when he broke the news to the child’s mother. Not this child, he had assured. Not this time. And now he had nothing more to offer them. He couldn’t do anything…it was hopeless.

“He who made a way through the sea, 
a path through the mighty waters,
who drew out the chariots and horses,
the army and reinforcements together,
and they lay there, never to rise again,
extinguished, snuffed out like a wick:
Forget the former things;
do not dwell on the past.
See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
and streams in the wasteland.”

Isaiah is bringing hope to his people, a foretelling of the coming Messiah…a promise of a NEW thing coming.  The new thing would be Jesus. And hope would shatter convention, time, and space and would make his dwelling among us.

It would be that same Jesus who would soften the woman’s heart toward her husband. It would be that same Jesus who would grant perfect peace in the pit of the despairing, grieving mother.

It would be the same Jesus who would provide literal streams in a wasteland in India in 2010. He would make a way where there was no way. There seemed to be no way, but they prayed anyway. There was no hope, but they hoped anyway.

What they did not perceive was that across the globe in Trinity North Carolina, a Sunday School class had been urged by that same Jesus to raise money for a well in a developing nation. The two groups made a most unlikely connection, and they began to prepare for the well. Here is an excerpt of the email from the pastor in India to the Sunday School class in North Carolina shortly thereafter:

“Finally we could do the bore well in the place where the Lord enabled to buy the land.  It would be easy to do it in another place, but we wanted to put this bore well in this land because there was so much water scarcity and it was amazing what the Lord did. Yesterday by the grace of God, we found a Bore well company and also a Pastor of ICA who is gifted in finding the water resources.  He came and we all prayed and trust[ed] the Lord to start the machine.

“To God be all the Glory and Honor, we could find water in less than 15 meters (40 feet) and we did up to 100 meters (301 feet). The neighbors of the land came and saw in awe and asking how is it possible, this place is known for dry ground. That’s the reason the land doesn’t produce hardly anything and the prices of the land have dropped. Also the neighbors have dug the ground more than 600 feet (200 meters) and still there is very little or no water.. How come?! We could point them to heaven and said: with Jesus all things are possible.

“He promised we will have water, water in abundance and He did what He spoke. Praise to the Holy Name of the Lord.

“All of them are Hindus, still under the bondage of idolatry, but all they could say was, “Yes, its true. Only Jesus could do that!”
There is no situation so hopeless that God himself cannot manifest into the only answer that matters. When hope is fading, trust in Him. He’s the kind of God that restores marriages, even when the papers have been signed. He’s the kind of God that offers peace, incomprehensible peace, to grieving mothers. And he’s the kind of God that still makes water spring up in the desert. And it’s the kind of flowing Spring that will never, ever run dry (John 7:38).

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