For the Lord comforts Zion; he comforts all her waste places and makes her wilderness like Eden, her desert like the garden of the Lord; joy and gladness will be found in her, thanksgiving and the voice of song. Isaiah 51:3 ESV
Ruined. Just ruined. That’s how my house felt. My husband decided it was time to scrape the popcorn texture from our ceiling. As I choked on the white powdery dust, wiped off kitchen countertops, vacuumed and swept only to vacuum and sweep some more – I grumbled anything but nice words under my breath.
If you have ever embarked on such an endeavor you know the massive explosion of dust it can cause. I just knew I would find filth in every nook and cranny for the next few months, and honestly, I probably will. But for the most part my house is back in good working condition, I survived it all, and I really am glad to have a nice new popcorn free ceiling. But in the middle of it all, I was anything but happy. In fact, I was so overwhelmed I had to leave to get a coffee and comfort myself.
And although coffee, especially a good white chocolate peppermint mocha, provides me with a great deal of comfort, it is just temporary. I came home to more dust that needed to be cleaned up. The mess remained, and I couldn’t really relax until the waste had disappeared. And maybe that’s why a small phrase tucked right in the middle of Isaiah 51:3 hit me so hard…
He comforts our waste places.
Our waste places. The white nasty dust that throws itself around our lives, refuses to settle, and causes us nothing but grief and pain. These are the places He comforts. Not the new. Not the cleaned up and pretty after product. The nasty in the middle of it all waste places.
And I wonder what your waste places are? Because we all have them. In fact, our brains often specialize in creating waste places. Places where we tell ourselves we are worthless, things will never get better, there is nothing we can do about it, no one cares, we are unloveable, we are not enough, and the pain will never end.
Sometimes these thoughts run so deep we have images to go with them. We literally envision ourselves alone in the middle of a field, or squashed under circumstances. Maybe we see ourselves as that broken and abused little girl, or that little boy who saw his daddy hurt his mom and couldn’t do anything to stop it.
And I want to remind you of something. God doesn’t just comfort these places, He makes them new. Where you once heard voices screaming or even squashed silent muffled cries, the sound of praise and rejoicing can be heard once again. Where innocence and beauty were ripped out by their roots, where the water refused to fall, the ground can be fertile again.
HE MAKES ALL THINGS NEW. ALL. THINGS. NEW.
But it doesn’t come easy. It’s a fight. And even when we throw in all the fight we have, sometimes it just takes time. The waste places are stubborn, and selfish. They like themselves and don’t really want to be transformed. But God is greater. With His power, what was once the wilderness will soon be Eden. It’s true.
So what are your waste places? What do you see in your mind when those old unwelcome visitors come knocking at your door? Maybe it’s time to let God do some scraping. To purposefully call a new voice and a new image to mind where the old once existed. To let God comfort and mend the breaks, but then rewire-reframe-remodel. Because what was once waste-FULL can be, will be, and is on it’s way to being wonder-FULL.