Encouragement for Thursday

The day before Easter I was able to visit Lake View Cemetery to see Daffodil Hill in bloom. I have known about it and seen pictures and video of the scene for many years, but never remembered to visit when the daffodils were in bloom. I was not the only one who visited that day. There were many people walking around it and taking pictures of family and friends among the flowers. Besides the beauty of the flowers, I noticed that the scene and the atmosphere really seemed to put people into a good mood. They were happy to see the outward signs of spring and warmer, brighter weather.

Daffodils and early spring blossoming bulbs have always been seen as harbingers of awakening and new life. Hope and growth rises from what previously looked to be cold, desolate ground. This image has been common for thousands of years. As Isaiah describes:

“Even the wilderness and desert will be glad in those days.

The wasteland will rejoice and blossom with spring crocuses.

Yes, there will be an abundance of flowers

and singing and joy!

The deserts will become as green as the mountains of Lebanon,

as lovely as Mount Carmel or the plain of Sharon.

There the Lord will display his glory,

the splendor of our God.”

(Isaiah 35:1-2, NLT)

The word translated as “crocus” in verse 1 is translated in other versions as “narcissus,” “lily” or even “rose.” The type of flower isn’t clear, but the image of them signaling rebirth and renewal is clear. It might seem like you have been living in a desert wasteland, but that will change. “Say to those with fearful hearts, ‘Be strong and do not fear, for your God is coming to destroy your enemies. He is coming to save you.” (Isaiah 35:4)

Although Isaiah was dealing with God’s people at a difficult point in history it is clear that his message reached far ahead to a future time.

“And when he comes, he will open the eyes of the blind

and unplug the ears of the deaf.

The lame will leap like a deer,

and those who cannot speak will sing for joy!”

(Isaiah 35:5-6)

When Jesus was approached by disciples of John the Baptist in Galilee and was asked if He was the Messiah that John spoke of, “Jesus replied, ‘Go back and report to John what you hear and see: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor. Blessed is anyone who does not stumble on account of me.’“ (Matthew 11:4-6)

It sounds like He had Isaiah’s words in Isaiah 35 in mind, doesn’t it? I believe He did, even though it isn’t a full direct quote. The remainder of Matthew 11 presents a strong parallel theme to Isaiah 34 and 35. The unrepentant, those against God, will end up facing destruction. “Those who have been ransomed by the Lord will return. They will enter Jerusalem singing, crowned with everlasting joy. Sorrow and mourning will disappear, and they will be filled with joy and gladness.” (Isaiah 35:10). As believers we have been ransomed by the Lord through His payment of Jesus for our sins. May we all take Jesus’ message in Matthew 11:28-30 to heart: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Take heart and be encouraged!


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