I awoke with a blast of anxiety this morning. It’s a part of loss common to widows which is most uncomfortable, but the Lord had a surprise for me.
The house was freezing. I grabbed my bathrobe and staggered into the living room and saw the most beautiful sight.
The morning light was streaming in the window highlighting the blossom on the Christmas cactus. All around it was shadowed, except for one side of the plant and the face of my Bible with the words: Let God Love You.
My heart swelled with joy. Like blossoms on a garland, delicate, gentle beauty: “Let Me Love You. All you have need of I’ve already provided for you.”
Dear God, what have I to fear when Your grace and beauty surround me.
Then I read Isaiah 61
1 ‘The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me to bring good news to the afflicted; He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to captives and freedom to prisoners; 2 to proclaim the favorable year of the LORD and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn,
3 To grant those who mourn in Zion, giving them a garland instead of ashes,
The oil of gladness instead of mourning, the mantle of praise instead of a spirit of fainting. So they will be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified.” (Isaiah 61:1-3 NAS)
“A garland instead of ashes . . .” as I’ve studied the significance of a garland I found it is interchangeable with the word “crown”. It is an ornament of grace, literally, a wreath or garland of grace. It’s an ornament placed on a victor, meaning “stood the test; tested to be trustworthy, of sterling worth.”
Christ did all this for us. He stood the test. He paid the price, suffered the loss and heartache, the pain and torment in our place. He has given us an “instead” for every negative emotion, every response in our human hearts, every trial and heart-break.
What love . . . Can you hear the voice of our Heavenly Father in this?
Every trial and test can make us stronger if we embrace the instead from God.
We are empowered, in Christ, to minister this same grace to those who are devastated, desolate and ruined. God will use what we have come through to rebuild, raise up, and repair others.
Forgive us, Heavenly Father, when we leave Your garland behind and carry our fainting hearts instead, as if You’d given us no answer for our sorrow. Forgive us for leaving behind the manifold grace You have provided for every facet of our lives.
I lift up my friends today, Father, comfort them, Lord, rebuild, raise up and repair their lives. You are most faithful. There is nothing we experience in life that You have not made provision for.
In Jesus name, Amen.