“Why must I walk through all of this suffering, Lord?”
“If you are so good and all-powerful, then why can’t you just stop this right now?” I once begged. (Which we will address later this week because this question alone warrants it’s own post.)
Suffering and pain. Pain and suffering. No matter how you package this grievous duo, it’s horrid.
Would you think I was completely crazy if I told you that I am more thankful for the fires I’ve walked through than probably anything else in my life?
Yes, I’m one Twisted Sister.
But here’s the thing: what I once begged God to rectify on my behalf, I can now see would have prevented me from experiencing the beauty that is now my daily life.
If I hadn’t known the heartbreak of being married to a man who suffered from addiction, was unfaithful, and deceptive about finances, I would not hold the discerning wisdom that made me hold-out for the right man the second-time around.
If I hadn’t held-out for this exact second husband, I wouldn’t have the privilege of doing life with a man I love but also really, really like.
There would be no healthy and beautiful children that are walking reminders of His grace and mercy.
There wouldn’t be opportunities to encourage others to release the shame that can come from being a divorced Christian.
There wouldn’t be a tenderness towards those with addictions and victims of adultery.
If I hadn’t lost my father unexpectedly a month after I filed for divorce, I wouldn’t know the pain of losing a parent.
And I wouldn’t be able to minister to others who also find themselves without a parent.
See the power of suffering?
Our first week, we focused on FREEDOM by breaking-free from the chains that bind us. Last week, our theme was REBUILDING and this week we’ll discuss PAIN AND SUFFERING.
Now before you punch through your computer screen and run for the hills, let me warn you that you might find the examination of your own suffering to be cathartic. It’s in the study of my own trials that I am able to really see God’s fingerprints all over my life.
Today we continue on with our Lectio Davina style of scripture study and we add verses eight and nine to the prior seven verses of Isaiah 61 we have already studied. Please pick a translation (and yes, if you want to do all three translations, go ahead!) and work through the steps of Lectio. Begin by praying that God will search your heart and open your mind to new teachings you are ready to learn. To review, the steps of Lectio Davina are:
First Reading: (Lectio) – Read the passage. What word or phrase stands out to me?
Second Reading: (Meditatio) – Read again. What in the text touches my life or relates to it in some way?
Third Reading: (Oratio) – Read again. What is God inviting me to do or be? How is He asking me to respond?
Fourth Reading: (Contemplatio) Read again and rest in God’s loving presence.
New Living Translation:
1 The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is upon me, because the LORD has appointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to comfort the brokenhearted and to announce that captives will be released and prisoners will be freed.
2 He has sent me to tell those who mourn that the time of the LORD’s favor has come, and with it, the day of God’s anger against their enemies.
3 To all who mourn in Israel, he will give beauty for ashes, joy instead of mourning, praise instead of despair. For the LORD has planted them like strong and graceful oaks for his own glory.
4 They will rebuild the ancient ruins, repairing cities long ago destroyed. They will revive them, though they have been empty for many generations.
5 Foreigners will be your servants. They will feed your flocks and plow your fields and tend your vineyards.
6 You will be called priests of the LORD, ministers of our God. You will be fed with the treasures of the nations and will boast in their riches.
7 Instead of shame and dishonor, you will inherit a double portion of prosperity and everlasting joy.
8 “For I, the LORD, love justice. I hate robbery and wrongdoing. I will faithfully reward my people for their suffering and make an everlasting covenant with them.
9 Their descendants will be known and honored among the nations. Everyone will realize that they are a people the LORD has blessed.”
1-7 The Spirit of God, the Master, is on me because God anointed me. He sent me to preach good news to the poor, heal the heartbroken, announce freedom to all captives, pardon all prisoners. God sent me to announce the year of his grace—a celebration of God’s destruction of our enemies—and to comfort all who mourn, to care for the needs of all who mourn in Zion, give them bouquets of roses instead of ashes, messages of joy instead of news of doom, a praising heart instead of a languid spirit.Rename them “Oaks of Righteousness” planted by God to display his glory. They’ll rebuild the old ruins, raise a new city out of the wreckage. They’ll start over on the ruined cities, take the rubble left behind and make it new. You’ll hire outsiders to herd your flocks and foreigners to work your fields, but you’ll have the title “Priests of God,” honored as ministers of our God. You’ll feast on the bounty of nations, you’ll bask in their glory.
Because you got a double dose of trouble and more than your share of contempt,your inheritance in the land will be doubled and your joy go on forever.
8-9 “Because I, God, love fair dealing
and hate thievery and crime,
I’ll pay your wages on time and in full,
and establish my eternal covenant with you.
Your descendants will become well-known all over.
Your children in foreign countries
Will be recognized at once
as the people I have blessed.”
The Spirit of the Lord, the Eternal, is on me. The Lord has appointed me for a special purpose. He has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to repair broken hearts, and to declare to those who are held captive and bound in prison, “Be free from your imprisonment!”
2 He has sent me to announce the year of jubilee, the season of the Eternal’s favor: for our enemies it will be a day of God’s wrath; For those who mourn it will be a time of comfort.
3 As for those who grieve over Zion, God has sent me to give them a beautiful crown in exchange for ashes, To anoint them with gladness instead of sorrow, to wrap them in victory, joy, and praise instead of depression and sadness. People will call them magnificent, like great towering trees standing for what is right. They stand to the glory of the Eternal who planted them.
4 And they will rebuild this place from its ancient ruins; they will restore the ages-old, once-splendid structures; They will renew Israel’s ruined cities from the ashes and debris that laid untouched for many generations.
5 And people will come from all over to serve you: Outsiders will tend your flocks, plough your fields, and prune your vines.
6 You will be known as the ones specially chosen by the Eternal as priests; people will speak of you as ministers of our God. And the wealth of nations will come to you for your delight and enrichment.
7 Many called you disgraced and defiled and said that shame should be your share of things. Yet your suffered doubly and lived in disgrace; So double will be your share, and with joy everlasting.
Eternal One: 8 For I, the Eternal, love justice. I hate stealing and all manner of wrongdoing. In faithfulness to those who do justice, I promise they will be rewarded for their work; and I will establish an everlasting covenant with them.
9 Furthermore, I will promise them My support for their children, so that all nations and everyone around will see that they are the children blessed by the Eternal God.
Don’t forget to sit in the quiet a bit with Him as you go through these verses. Journal your thoughts and revelations – and when I say journal, it can be a narrative with paragraphs or just a simple list. Too often, we get scared of journaling because we bring our own expectations to the table but listen, girls…THERE ARE NO RULES IN JOURNALING. It’s between God and you. Period. And even if you aren’t a wordy girl, you might find yourself a little shocked by the connects you make when you write some things down.
We’ll talk more on Thursday – until then, may you bask in His truth and shoot the lies out of the water with those “bullets”…