“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me,
because the Lord has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor;
he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives,
and the opening of the prison to those who are bound;
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor,
and the day of vengeance of our God;
to comfort all who mourn;
to grant to those who mourn in Zion—
to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness instead of mourning,
the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit;
that they may be called oaks of righteousness,
the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified.
They shall build up the ancient ruins;
they shall raise up the former devastations;
they shall repair the ruined cities,
the devastations of many generations.” Isaiah 61:1-4
There is a scratch in the sky this morning, the only smudge of color in an otherwise clear canopy, like a scrape that’s injured smooth skin. Its color draws attention, diverting my eyes from all that is right to the lone aberration. It has the trace of the Maker’s hand, Him who makes beauty from the scratches in our lives. Only our Lord is flawless. Only He turns mourning to gladness, the faint-hearted to praise, devastation to wholeness.
Would we remember this ongoing grace were every day smooth, every sky clear? Captivity groans for freedom, brokenness for restoration, ruin to be raised. It is these frictions and longings that flow forth in beauty and glory when Jehovah appears and has His way. Every scratch points to His perfection, every longing to His appearing when all will be well. (Revelation 21:3-7)
How can we perceive our life scratches anew by considering the good news our Lord announces? Would we fix our hope on His promises of what is to come, and on Him who will fulfill them?
And how can we minister to others in low places of life and soul? If the Lord has indeed anointed us with good news, how readily and often are we proclaiming it? Who is mourning that we can comfort, who is faint that needs reminding of God’s reviving strength? Where do we carry the gospel in word and action, by binding the broken through affectionate care, or loosing the bound by forgiving wrongs against us while explaining the love of Jesus? When all we see are frail seeds of potential, what are we doing to nurture individuals and relationships to establish them as oaks of righteousness? (Isaiah 40:28-31; 1 John 3:18)
God’s blessed favor touches every scratch, and reaches every devastated generation. It is in fact the ruin in the world that magnifies the loveliness of His grace. We who have received the gospel for ourselves have the daily privilege of proclaiming it, speaking truth in love so His mercies and bounty can be known and employed for the building up of the Body. (Ephesians 4:15-16)
Lord, in the power of Your Spirit upon and in me, help me proclaim and live out Your good news to the poor and brokenhearted. May Your people grow in gladness, that You may be glorified.