Was 2008 filled with grief or pain of any kind? Are you ready for a trade? On December 30, I met with a precious group in Mobile, and we examined the offer given to us in Isaiah 61:1-3.
The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me,
because the LORD has anointed me to preach good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners,to proclaim the year of the LORD's favor
and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
a planting of the LORD
for the display of his splendor.
We give up our ashes and are given a garland or crown of beauty. My sister in law, Mary Faith, described this picture so perfectly. We are like a fireplace; Jesus cleans out all of the soot and ash and then adorns us with a beautiful garland.
When we are ready to conclude our season of mourning, He will anoint us with the oil of gladness. There is a grief process. When we experience great loss, we need to mourn. But when that season is complete, we can trade. The Holy Spirit will bring the Comforter that we need in order to live a full life again. (John 16:7, John 10:10) We can be glad again. He makes that possible.
The "mantle of praise" is something we can do to fight discouragement. This cloak is something we can wear or put in place in order to discard our spirit of fainting or heaviness. Praise and worship includes singing God's Word, writing about his goodness, or reading a Psalm aloud. We now have a tool to fight the real life grief that we face.
Another thing to remember is that freedom is available whether we are victims or sinners. We can be a captive based on someone else's sin, something we may not have known how to prevent. He sets us free. We may be inprisoned by our sin; He offers us liberty!
I'm ready for a new year. I'm trading my sorrows. I hope you will too.
Blessings on you and yours in '09.