This prophecy by Isaiah in the Old Testament is one of my favorites. Of course it’s speaking of the mandate of the Messiah. When Jesus stood in the temple and read this scripture from Isaiah he declared "Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing" (Luke 4:21).
The reason this scripture is so dear to me is because at times in my life I’ve been through each of the places described in Isaiah 61. However my greatest suffering was through the loss of three of my children. I encountered the deepest grief, loss and mourning I could imagine. Life can be like that. Our world can change so dramatically with the loss of a loved one. Grief also covers any loss of something we’ve held dear – such as loss of our health, loss of a job or divorce. I actually went through a season of grief because I had one loss after another. I wondered if it would ever end and if I could truly be happy again.
But right at the heart of Isaiah’s prophecy about the coming Messiah is a set of promises that should be an enormous encouragement to you if you’re suffering from grief. He promises to comfort and provide for all who mourn. Not only that, but "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"(Isaiah 61:3). Wow! This can be ours through Jesus Christ our Lord.
In the face of grief and loss you can be tempted to doubt the Lord and His goodness, questioning why your loved one suffered and died, or why you’ve lost the thing you held dear. My encouragement to you today is to trust Jesus, even if your emotions are hurting. Turn to Jesus for your healing. He’ll bring healing to your heart and help you get through the grief. The day will come when you’ll find, as I did, that you have a crown of beauty adorning your head, oil of gladness making you shine and a garment of praise cloaking your shoulders, making you want to dance again. You’ll find that these blessings could never have been yours if you hadn’t gone through your loss.
Prayer: Dear Jesus, thank You that You are the fulfillment of the promises in Isaiah 61. Today I bring any grief in my heart to You and ask You to do a divine exchange - a crown of beauty for ashes, oil of gladness instead of mourning and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. Amen.
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