It's no secret that as a nation, and a church, we're in the midst of a bit of turmoil and trying times. With a major, world-wide health crisis, so many parts of our lives, and those around us, are affected.
As we enter stores with sparse shelves, as we watch the news, hearing updates on more and more Americans infected, as we see the stock market go up and down, and continue to quarantine to ensure our family stays safe - our hearts can certainly feel heavy. Thankfully, there's many a solution that God gives us in times like these. Yes, His word says to trust, to believe and to wait on relief, but there's also quite a bit of actual action He charges His people to participate in.
In Isaiah 61, we see that Isaiah, speaking of the call God's placed on His own life as a servant and believer in Him, declares action that we can all apply to our own lives:
1The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim 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,[a] 2 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, 3 and provide for those who grieve in Zion— to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. ...
In a time of despair, of ultimate challenge and some fear - this is our duty as believers. This is what we have to offer in time when things only seem to be taken away. When the world is seeing loss, it may be that what they view as catastrophe is truly an offering of a tradeoff that brings them to victory every time.
Maybe you find your own self in that same place - a time of morning or a spirit of despair. Know that's real, it's a real part of life sometimes and certainly a present one that some of us are experiencing now. Yet, as we see in Verse 3 - God proclaims, through Isaiah, that He offers us a solution, a trade-off if you will and that is a beauty for ashes, joy for mourning and a garment of praise For all the despair.
You might be having a hard time turning the news off. You're consumed with the frustration that home schooling, social distancing, live streaming instead of physical connection and even the financial burden you might be experiencing can bring. Maybe all of those things combined are leaving you with a real spirit of despair. I challenge you to trade those garments in. I challenge you to change those clothes and put on a garment of praise. Put on a spirit of thanksgiving, take a posture of praise and allow your perspective to change. Allow gratitude to pass through your lips and your spirit. Give your heart a rest in the acknowledgement as, like Isaiah, you can offer this same exchange to the world around you that may be feeling this same spirit of despair without any sense of relief to come. You have the answer, but you have to access it.
What happens when we do this - when we offer the world what they're so desperately in need of:
4THEY will rebuild the ancient ruins and restore the places long devastated; THEY will renew the ruined cities that have been devastated for generations. 5 Strangers will shepherd your flocks; foreigners will work your fields and vineyards. 6 And you will be called priests of the Lord, you will be named ministers of our God.
THEY get to take part in the rebuilding because of the access granted to them through that blessed exchange. So, today, no matter if you've been home all week, been sticking to dry shampoo and no makeup for days - change those raggedy clothes! Exchange that spirit and get yourself a glorious garment of praise. Today is the day that despair dies. Today is the day that HOPE LIVES. You have the answer. Today, it is Christ. Tomorrow it is Christ and every day it is all that He is - hope, life, joy, peace, comfort, provision, healing and so much more. Don't forget His promises when there seems to be no evidence of them. BECOME the evidence as you walk boldly in new clothes!