Read His Words Before Ours!
This will be a tough Christmas for me and my family.
We lost my uncle in February.
My sister, only 48 years old, went to be with Jesus on Easter morning due to Covid-19.
My grandmother is entering hospice care.
Tears come unbidden as I write.
It’s been an incredibly traumatizing year and for the first time since my dad died twenty years ago, I can physically feel my heart ache. It’s like part of me is missing. Do you know that feeling? I don’t like it, but it’s here to stay for a while.
I anticipate that as Christmas arrives, this ache will be worse. It was my sister’s favorite holiday. Elaborate decorating . . . many gifts lavishly wrapped . . . all born of a genuine love of giving and sharing, especially during Christmas. She was like a bright star in December. I know my holiday, my world, will be a bit dimmer without her.
As I write about heartache, I think about the Israelites. I cannot imagine the pressing ache of waiting, generation after generation, for a promised Savior who would crush the enemy underneath His feet. (Genesis 3:15, Romans 16:20) I have a hard time waiting 17 days for something, so 1700 years seems unimaginable.
They endured so much during those 1700 years. They were exiled several times because they just couldn’t follow God with all their hearts. After one exile, when they returned and were trying to rebuild, rich Israelites took advantage of poor neighbors. They were so ruthless, they accepted their kinsmen’s daughters as payment for taxes! (Nehemiah 5:5)
They should have worked together to help rebuild, not just their city, but also their relationship with God. Instead, they tried to soothe their heartache with money and power over the weak and poor.
And you know what?
Their actions broke God’s heart.
Just read Hosea 11:1-8 again.
Can you feel the hurt and heartache of God? But God is merciful and loving. As He always does, He gave them a way to return to Him, to be His people again:
“If [. . .] my people, who bear my name, humble themselves, pray and seek my face, and turn from their evil ways, then I will hear from heaven, forgive their sin, and heal their land.”
(2 Chronicles 7:14)
God knows we can only be whole through Him, so He has provided an eternal road back to Him, even when we break His heart.
When the 1700 years was up, God delivered His promise.
But His promise wasn’t just for Israel.
It was for us, too.
Jesus came to “bring good news to the poor [. . .] heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and freedom to the prisoners; to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” (Isaiah 61:1-2)
This promise from hundreds of years earlier was for Jews and Gentiles alike, which includes us. Jesus came to free us from looking to anything or anyone else for freedom and healing because He “is the way, the truth and the life.” Just like the Israelites, we can get caught up longing for something better, instead of looking to the One Who is better.
Let’s face it, living in this world is hard. There is no living without heartbreak and heartache. Sure, it points to the brokenness of the world. But it also points to our own insufficiency: we cannot heal ourselves.
We try, though. We shop, eat all the comfort food, drink, use drugs, isolate, or even deny our pain, but none of these will bring light to our darkness. Similarly, not one idol, power play, or act of rebellion brought light to the Israelites’ darkness. Instead, Jesus came, died, and rose to free us from sin and death. (John 3:16-17) And that’s not even the full picture!
If we look to Isaiah 60, we see God’s full promise to the nation of Israel, and to us. Israel will no longer live in darkness. Jesus will reign there and the glory of God will shine so brightly, darkness will be cast out. Forever. He will draw in other nations, who will find the light they’ve been searching for everywhere else. What a wonderful picture!
Even better, we don’t need to wait for eternity to experience the light and healing of Immanuel, God With Us. Jesus said, “I am the light of the world. Anyone who follows me will never walk in the darkness but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12) Further, if you have accepted Christ, the light of the Holy Spirit lives within you.
Sisters, let us connect with the power of the Holy Spirit.
Let us be radiant and rejoice in Jesus, the light of the world. (Isaiah 60:5)
Until He returns, let us look to Him for our comfort, healing and light.
Embracing God’s fullness in our lives is rooted in scripture and memorizing His word is vital to our continued growth and depth with Jesus. Tap and hold from your mobile device to download this week’s verse and make it your phone’s lockscreen!