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The Year of the Lord's favor



God's will and his plans are not always perfect, positive, or pretty.

We, as Christians, always want to sugar coat and sterilize everything, to make it seem beautiful. This is why we have these pretty little sayings "God won't give you more then you can handle." or "Ask and it will be given to you."

You know what God's word tells me? That He makes beauty, from ashes.

Isaiah 61:1-3

The 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, 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 joy 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.

Ashes. Ashes. Ashes.

We are all walking through a difficult time in our world right now. You can't wake up and speak to someone without hearing about pandemics, financial crisis, or specifically the struggles of that person. We are all in a time of grieving.

Yes, I call it grieving. I have spoken to many of my Divorce Care friends since this stay at home order began. Many of us have agreed, this feels like divorce all over again. Life is changing so suddenly! Changes happening daily. It's almost better to hole up and wait it out. Changes that are painful. Losses. Am I going to have my job tomorrow? My business? My home? I can't see my family right now. I can't spend time with my friends. All of the schools are shut down and the businesses are closed. I can't even show my face in a public place (literally), because I have to wear a mask to cover what is coming into me and going out of me. Not to mention my children and their struggles. I am trying to keep them lifted up, all while I am dealing with my grief solo. Yes, we are all grieving. We are all mourning right now, over the ashes of the lives we used to have. And no, it's never going to completely go back to the way it was. I am sorry not to sterilize or sugar coat that fact, but you need to understand that God's plans really, truly are better then ours. When He allows our lives to burn, He has beauty to grow out of those ashes.

We are here, brothers and sisters, to proclaim good news. Yes, even in the midst of tragedy and grief, good news! Bind up the brokenhearted. Call your loved ones. In fact, call those you struggle to love too. Freedom for the captives. Release from darkness for the prisoners. God is going to use this time to draw us to Him!

"...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 joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair"

Do you see, that this is more than an "even though" moment! This is a "because of" moment. This is the year of the Lord's favor, BECAUSE it is the day of vengeance of our God! Because we can no longer rely on our economy, our businesses, our homes, our families, our friends, our entertainment, and our pleasures. Because these things are no longer available to us, now! Finally! Now, God can comfort us! He can be our provider! He can use the ashes of the lives that have burned and make beauty out of them! He can pour oil of joy over our heads, because we are mourning. He has to take the spirit of despair from us in order to give us the garment of praise.

It reminds me of one of those pretty little Christian sayings about how we can only really understand the brightness of the Lord's light, because we have seen the shadows.

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