Oil shimmers in the bottom of my Le Creuset, the gleam hinting to the heat at work. I pour in the risotto and hear that familiar hiss and pop like Rice Krispies hitting cold milk.
Early this morning I couldn’t go back to sleep and I scoured the internet researching the drought in Ethiopia and learning about the nannies who work at our orphanage. It’s the worst drought in Ethiopia since 1984. The year jolts me. It’s the year I was born. I start reading short snippets of stories from the nannies at our orphanage. Many are single and care for children not from their womb–siblings, nieces, nephews, children from the streets. One of the nannies says her prayer request is for the drought. When the sky seems empty and the dirt is bone dry, where does the hope come from?
Trust in the Lord, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness. Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act. He will bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday. (Psalm 37:3-6 ESV)
Noonday. When the sun is high in the sky, when the cotton mouth dry of drought must be the harshest. I look up the Hebrew for “noonday.” It comes from the root word “tsahar,” a word that means to press out oil, to glisten. I think of this as I stir the risotto and watch the kernels soak up the oil shimmering in the bottom of the dutch oven.
If you pour yourself out for the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then shall your light rise in the darkness and your gloom be as the noonday. (Isaiah 58:10 ESV)
Pour. Pour yourself out for the hungry. Like when Jesus took the Passover meal with his disciples before going to the cross, when He took the cup and gave thanks, when He gave the cup to them, when He gave them a tangible picture of the grace He would soon give them, the pouring out of His blood that would redeem them.
And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.” (Matthew 26:27-28 ESV, emphasis mine)
Satisfy. Satisfy the desire of the afflicted. Like the time Jesus fed a crowd of hungry people in a desolate place, fed them not just enough to quiet their growling stomachs, but enough to satisfy them, to fill them.
And his disciples answered him, “How can one feed these people with bread here in this desolate place?” And he asked them, “How many loaves do you have?” They said, “Seven.” And he directed the crowd to sit down on the ground. And he took the seven loaves, and having given thanks, he broke them and gave them to his disciples to set before the people; and they set them before the crowd. And they had a few small fish. And having blessed them, he said that these also should be set before them. And they ate and were satisfied. (Mark 8:4-8 ESV, emphasis mine)
When the sky seems empty and the dirt is bone dry, where does the hope come from?
So shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it. (Isaiah 55:11 ESV)
Hope comes from the Word of God. The Word that does not return empty. The Word that brings death to life. The very Word that broke and poured out for me with a crown of thorns upon His head. The Word that put flesh upon dry bones.
The hand of the LORD was upon me, and he brought me out in the Spirit of the LORD and set me down in the middle of the valley; it was full of bones. And he led me around among them, and behold, there were very many on the surface of the valley, and behold, they were very dry. And he said to me, “Son of man, can these bones live?” And I answered, “O Lord GOD, you know.” Then he said to me, “Prophesy over these bones, and say to them, O dry bones, hear the word of the LORD. Thus says the Lord GOD to these bones: Behold, I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live. And I will lay sinews upon you, and will cause flesh to come upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and you shall live, and you shall know that I am the LORD.”
So I prophesied as I was commanded. And as I prophesied, there was a sound, and behold, a rattling, and the bones came together, bone to its bone. And I looked, and behold, there were sinews on them, and flesh had come upon them, and skin had covered them. But there was no breath in them. Then he said to me, “Prophesy to the breath; prophesy, son of man, and say to the breath, Thus says the Lord GOD: Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe on these slain, that they may live.” So I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived and stood on their feet, an exceedingly great army.
Then he said to me, “Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. Behold, they say, ‘Our bones are dried up, and our hope is lost; we are indeed cut off.’ Therefore prophesy, and say to them, Thus says the Lord GOD: Behold, I will open your graves and raise you from your graves, O my people. And I will bring you into the land of Israel. And you shall know that I am the LORD, when I open your graves, and raise you from your graves, O my people. And I will put my Spirit within you, and you shall live, and I will place you in your own land. Then you shall know that I am the LORD; I have spoken, and I will do it, declares the LORD.” (Ezekiel 37:1-14 ESV)
I keep stirring the risotto, wooden spoon breaking down the starches in the risotto, dry kernels transforming into creamy perfection. The people cried out that their bones were dried up, and their hope was lost. But God showed them the eternal Hope, “I have spoken, and I will do it” (Ezekiel 37:14). Our hope is His Word. The Word that spoke creation into existence. The Word that broke and poured out. The Word that breathes life into dry bones. The Word that calls me to action. The Word that brings forth justice as the noonday–that glistening reminder that He is always enough and we can always have as much of Him as we desire.