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Joy in Unlikely Places—Part 1

January 11, 2019

“You shall go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and the hills before you shall break forth into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.” Isaiah 55:12

You might expect that the barren woman, the deserted wife, and the people who live in the ruined city are the unhappiest people in the world. But Isaiah sees joy in these unlikely places.

The barren woman is singing! The abandoned wife knows that she is loved. The ruined city is rebuilt, not with brick and mortar, but with rubies, sapphires, and precious stones.

God says to these people: “You shall go out in joy” (55:12). But how can these people, who have known such great sorrow, ever find joy?

The barren woman is singing because she is surrounded by a community of people who love her like their own mother, and she finds joy in them as if they were her own children: “Sing, O barren one, who did not bear; break forth into singing and cry aloud, you who have not been in labor! For the children of the desolate one will be more than the children of her who is married” (54:1). The barren woman finds joy in God’s people.

The deserted wife, who has gone through such emotional trauma, has become confident. She has dignity, is not ashamed, and knows that she is loved. God says to her, “Fear not, for you will not be ashamed; be not confounded, for you will not be disgraced; for you will forget the shame of your youth, and the reproach of your widowhood you will remember no more” (54:4). How? “For your Maker is your husband” (54:5). This deserted woman finds joy in God’s love.

How have you found joy in God’s love or his people in your sorrow?

The Author
Colin Smith

Colin Smith is the senior pastor of The Orchard Evangelical Free Church in the northwest suburbs of Chicago. He has authored a number of books, including Heaven, How I Got Here and Heaven, So Near - So Far. Colin is the president and teacher for Unlocking the Bible. Follow him on Twitter.

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