because the Lord has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners,
to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor
and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
and provide for those who grieve in Zion -
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
instead of a spirit of despair.
this morning a mother did not pack a school lunch. she did not tell her little one not to forget his mittens. she is not concerned about school Christmas concerts or the skating field trip.
my heart is breaking for Connecticut. i have never cried over a piece of news like i have this past weekend. i feel stunned, impotent, angry, but mostly, deeply, sad.
how do i proclaim freedom? how do i bind up? release? comfort?
ah, but this prophecy is not about janet anderson, it was spoken by an old man (at least i picture Isaiah as always ancient) many years ago, about Jesus. can He do it? will He do it? and can He and will He through me?
last week i was reading this passage in Isaiah 35:
Even the wilderness and desert will be glad in those days.
The wasteland will rejoice and blossom with spring crocuses.
Yes, there will be an abundance of flowers and singing and joy!
The deserts will become as green as the mountains of Lebanon,
as lovely as Mount Carmel or the plain of Sharon.
There the Lord will display his glory,
the splendor of our God.
With this news, strengthen those who have tired hands,
and encourage those who have weak knees.
i looked back on the wildernesses and deserts of my life - years of living with fear as a constant companion, my journey of looking for safety in the arms of relationships, miscarriages, depression, anxiety, a season where after a near-death experience my daughter did not sleep for months...
flowers have been planted in these deserts.
each of these wastelands God has turned into something which can display His glory - miraculously. and just like the spring crocus, in each of these circumstances i had lost hope, i believed the winter would never end, and then i glimpsed a bit of green. a truth that began the transformation. it's not that i'm glad i went through those experiences, not that i would welcome them again, but there is a consistent rhythm in my life of God showing up. God changing me (and this is usually the healing - not that the circumstances change, but that i change in them). God using those painful places to bring consolation to others who are hurting, maybe even a nugget of wisdom, a sister in the journey. God did not and does not rid my life of desert places, but He transforms them into gardens.
i wish i could hand that truth to Connecticut. i deeply want to hold that grieving mother in my arms and cry with her. i want to let her hold my children and cry out her pain. i want to cook her a meal and paint her a picture and offer any kindness. but i know that this healing will not come from me. It will come from Christ, and i know, i KNOW dear broken mother - it will come.