Genesis 1:9 Then God said, “Let the waters below the heavens be gathered into one place, and let the dry land appear”; and it was so.
Topography: mountains and valleys, lakes and oceans, the streams and rivers and water table appear, the circulation system of life on land. This is the final preparation before bringing life to the whole. The easel and canvas are set for his masterpiece. The land and water are still barren, but full of potential and possibility. God’s goal and intent and will are always life in all its beauty and variegation and goodness. The empty is filled and the barren comes to life. No situation is hopeless when God is present, and the end is always glorious.
But that end may not come soon. There is no reason to suppose that even these creation days are 24-hours—the sun that sets the sundials is still unborn in the creation account, and “day” in the Hebrew can be just as imprecise as it is in our day and language. When David says “weeping lasts for the night, but joy comes in the morning” he is not promising short sorrow… his morning may well be the dawn of a new age when full redemption finally comes to this tired and sick earth.
There are spots of respite, moments of encouragement, tastes of what is to come, but ours is a broken world. For some of us the ache is heavy and prolonged and hope is held by a thread. It is the barrenness of this life that frees us from an easy contentment which dulls the sharp pain of this world’s suffering. We suffer with it. For us, the new heavens and earth are not icing on the cake of this life, but the final deliverance from a pathway of broken glass. We are not moving into an upgrade, but clambering from a sinking boat in a raging sea. It is truly our salvation. Our hope is in another world, and that hope is the channel by which that kingdom reaches down into our hearts to shape us into its likeness, making us flickering candles in a dark world. It is the very barrenness of this world that brings us to life through this agony of labor.
Lord, in this life of sorrow, let me keep hope alive, let me hold empathy for all my fellow travelers, let me be daily more a reflection of your heart in this world.