“But a very little while, and Lebanon shall be changed into an orchard, and the orchard be regarded as a forest!” – Is. 29:17

Lebanon will be changed into an orchard. This line immediately struck me. Hard. I rarely consider Lebanon a verdant land, nor would I consider her surrounding lands life-giving either. For most of my life, the Middle East has been embroiled in some sort of conflict. The strings of interrelated wars have left pock-marked lands, cities filled with rubble, and countless loss of life.

The atrocities that go on in the Biblical Lands wax and wane on the news cycle. Our attention and concern for them generally follows suit. It seems so long ago that the news ad social media was overtaken by images of refugees fleeing Syria. The horrors of war forcing people away from the places that we consider “Holy.” Yet, the promises of scripture are held in these lands. They give us our spiritual life despite the fact that death and destruction has become common for places like Palestine and Syria.

In this time of Advent, maybe this is an opportunity to remember our spiritual roots. This could be a time to reconnect to the Middle East and our brothers and sisters in faith, remembering that we are all awaiting salvation. Let us take the opportunity to look beyond the fear and death shown on the news to efforts that offer hope and life. May we consider what it is that we can do to help bring about his orchard that the Lord promised.

Matt Keppel

Photo Credit: Abdelrahman Ismail (Reuters)