“We’re cutting your job.” A decade ago those words sent me reeling when the company I worked for eliminated my position. At the time, I felt shattered, partly because my identity was so intertwined with my role as editor. Recently I felt a similar sadness when I heard that my freelance job was ending. But this time I didn’t feel rocked at my foundation, because over the years I have seen God’s faithfulness and how He can turn my mourning to joy.
Though we live in a fallen world where we experience pain and disappointment, the Lord can move us from despair to rejoicing, as we see in Isaiah’s prophecy about the coming of Jesus (Isa. 61:1–3). The Lord gives us hope when we feel hopeless; He helps us to forgive when we think we can’t; He teaches us that our identity is in Him and not in what we do. He gives us courage to face an unknown future. When we wear the rags of “ashes,” He gently gives us a coat of praise.
When we face loss, we shouldn’t run from the sadness, but neither do we want to become bitter or hardened. When we think about God’s faithfulness over the years, we know that He’s willing and able to turn our grief to dancing once again—to give us sufficient grace in this life and full joy in heaven.
Father God, You turned Jesus’s pain on the cross into our best gift ever. Deepen my faith that I may welcome Your life-changing love into my life.
God can bring times of growth out of our times of heartache.
Having warned the Israelites of exile in Babylon (Isa. 39:6–7), Isaiah now offers comforts that God will restore them (chapters 40–66). Isaiah 61 speaks of God’s grace as He delivers His people from bondage (vv. 1–3) and of God’s glory as He blesses them (vv. 4–11). In today’s passage, Isaiah writes about the identity and ministry of the Deliverer (vv. 1–3). At the start of His public ministry, Jesus read from this passage (Luke 4:18–19) and publicly affirmed that He is the Messiah Isaiah spoke of (v. 21). Already anointed by the Spirit (3:21–22; 4:1), Jesus came to preach the good news, to heal, to deliver, to restore, and to bless (Isa. 61:1–3) so that we can live holy lives that display “his splendor” (v. 3).