“Listen to me, you who pursue righteousness,
Who seek the LORD:
Look to the rock from which you were hewn
And to the quarry from which you were dug.
“Look to Abraham your father
And to Sarah who gave birth to you in pain;
When he was but one I called him,
Then I blessed him and multiplied him.”
Indeed, the LORD will comfort Zion;
He will comfort all her waste places.
And her wilderness He will make like Eden,
And her desert like the garden of the LORD;
Joy and gladness will be found in her,
Thanksgiving and sound of a melody. (Isaiah 51:1-3)
Pay attention to the lessons of the past. Find out what God has actually said and how God has actually acted. In the New Testament, Jesus enjoins his listeners to “seek first the kingdom of heaven and his righteousness,” reiterating God’s words to Isaiah. Those who seek God’s righteousness, should remember those before them who did the same. God sent Abraham from his home into a land that wasn’t his and gave him promises, many of which he never lived to see. He waited decades before the promise of an heir was fulfilled, far past the time that it even seemed possible. The fulfillment of Abraham’s hopes didn’t come until he was a very old man. He lived most of his life without experiencing the reality of any of God’s promises.
Those seeking righteousness can have confidence in God. But the need for comfort grows from suffering. It is easy to focus on the Promised Land that will be like Eden. We forget that milk and honey is preceded by the wilderness. The Israelites wandered for forty years before they entered the Promised Land, and even then, they faced years of hardship and war. The path of righteousness, the search for God, is sometimes a hard one.