Like the crocus, [the desert] will burst into bloom; it will rejoice greatly and shout for joy.
Growing up in the southwestern United States gave me a lot of opportunities to see the desert in bloom. A desert in full bloom is one of the most beautiful landscapes on earth. Part of the reason it can be so breathtaking is that for most of the year the desert looks like a wasteland. It looks the way Isaiah describes it—as a “parched land”—until the cactus blossoms and bright, radiant colors abound across the landscape. This can bring so much joy to the people who live there.
Isaiah describes the desert as responding with gladness and joy. The picture Isaiah paints is one of hope for the hopeless in a dry land.
“Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming” takes this picture and connects it to Isaiah’s prophecy of a shoot coming from the stump of Jesse (Isaiah 11:1). It ties the bloom of the crocus together with the “tender stem” that sprouted from the line of David, the son of Jesse. This imagery is then connected with the birth of Christ: “True God and yet true man, he came to save his people from earth’s dark night of sin.”
At the birth of Christ we see hope, joy, and gladness. Jesus brings us the water of life, redeeming us from sin and death and replacing our sorrow and sighing with renewed strength and everlasting joy.
Jesus, you bring so much joy to our dry and weary hearts. May we “rejoice greatly and shout for joy” at your coming, now and forever. Amen.