If I was stranded on an island and offered only one book from the bible, I would choose the prophecies of Isaiah. Within its pages are beautiful promises on the character and nature of God. It is full of the decrees that Jesus would accomplish while walking on this earth. One of my most favorite passages in Isaiah is chapter 61. We are told that Jesus, the Messiah, would heal our broken hearts and give us His beauty for our ashes. Most of us love this promise, but soon get frustrated when we don’t see everything become pretty all at once. I have found, when this has happened in my own life, it is because I am hanging onto some of my ashes/mess. Sometimes I am just not willing to give them to the Lord because holding them close gives me the feeling of being powerful. Perhaps it is too scary to let go of all the pain, hurt and frustration. Possibly, carrying your ashes brings you a level of comfort. Or, it could be, that no one has ever taken the time to help you unload the weight of what you have been bearing.
I want to share with you an encounter with God’s word that helped me unpack the load I had. One day I was reading in the 8th chapter of the book of Matthew. Jesus is ministering to the people who had come to hear him speak. The text tells us that Jesus “cast out unclean spirits with a word and healed them of their sickness.” The passage goes on to quote a scripture from Isaiah 53:4, saying all of this had to be fulfilled in order for the prophecies of Isaiah to be true -“He Himself would take our infirmities and bear our sicknesses.” Immediately, I turned to Isaiah 53:4 and read, “Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows…..”
Two words caught my attention – infirmity and grief. I looked up both of these in the concordance and the definitions: Infirmity – feebleness of mind and/or body, malady, frailty. Grief – to be rubbed or worn down; to become weak; to be grieved or in pain; sore, anxiety, calamity.
I recognized that part of Jesus’ mission towards us as His body, was to minister healing to our emotions and soul. Jesus understands what it means to be worn down and rubbed raw from painful experiences. He knew that our souls needed to be restored so that we could have a better relationship with the Father. While on this earth, we will have trials, suffering and pain, but Jesus came to return your soul back to a place of health and vitality. One of my favorite Psalms reminds us that God is our good Shepherd and He restores our souls to places of stillness and calm.
Where are you today? Are you lost in tragedy, problems or even sin? Are you sick or lonely? Are your emotions a mess because you have been abandoned, betrayed or rejected? Maybe you are living the results of all your mistakes and you don’t know what to do. Are you ready to let go of all your ashes my friend? If so, cry out to your heavenly Father and He will meet you right where you are. You may not know where you are, but God knows and He will come and find you. You are never hidden from His sight! The best prayer is sometimes the simplest, “Father God help me!”
“Take My yoke upon you and learn of Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” Matthew 11:29