There is not a single day that goes by where I do not hear someone talking about how they're not "good enough." It doesn't matter if the person is male or female or if the voice is coming from my own mouth. I hear it every single day and I say it every single day.
Allow me to be blunt. Those days where you hear others talking about how they are good enough, pretty enough, strong enough, smart enough, or anything where they don't measure up, those are lies of Satan. Most days, I am okay with it. I have believed what the devil has told me and if he can convince me that I'm not enough and that God will not equip me to do what He has called me to, then I am utterly useless to the kingdom of God. Some days, like today, I'm not okay with it. I am fed-up with Satan and his stupid lies. I know what God has said about me, about you, about us in Scripture and in my time with Him and yet here I am believing that the snake crawling around of his belly looking to steal, kill, and destroy knows me and my situation better than the Creator of the Universe and my Maker.
Today, I'm fed up and I am sick of it.
This week has been a full-on attack and it has taken literally every ounce of strength within me to stand up under it. But like Scripture tells us, the Lord will (and has) provided a way out.
Open your Bibles to Isaiah 61. Better yet, print it out.
Read it all the way through before you mark, underline, highlight anything.
We'll go through it together but first, here's a few things I want you to do:
1. Highlight every single action God is doing in this chapter.
2. Circle every single gift God gives to His people.
3. Underline everything God removes from His people.
Before we dive head first into this chapter allow me to be blunt once again: This is who you are in Christ Jesus and nothing less. This is what we are promised and so much more.
First, let's look at verses 1-3.
In these verses, here is what I have highlighted:
"...Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me..."
"...has anointed me..."
"...proclaim good news to the poor..."
"....bind up the broken hearted..."
"...proclaim freedom for the captives..."
"...release from darkness the prisoners..."
"...comfort all who mourn...."
"...provide for those who grieve..."
"...bestow on them a crown of beauty..."
Let's break this little bit down, friends. In just three short verses, look at all that God has done/will do/is doing in our lives. The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon you. If you love the Lord, everything that follows that brief statement in verse one, is for you. Dear one, if you have strayed from the Lord, come back to Him and you can experience all that we are about to talk about.
"...the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor..."
The Lord has given us His Spirit so that we can go out, represent Him, and tell others about Him. We have no other greater calling in our lives than this. Sure, being a wife, husband, mother, father, doctor, lawyer, teacher, musician, whatever is a great and beautiful calling and blessing but this is our primary goal in life as Christians: the proclaim the good news to the poor and glorify God with all that we say, do, read, listen to, watch, or any other aspect of our lives.
"...bind up the broken hearted..."
In this verse it actually says that the Lord has sent "me" to bind up the broken hearted. It may not exactly be the Lord doing the action (in a subject, verb, grammar Nazi-sense) but in reality, it is. We cannot go out and bind up the broken hearted because of two things: 1. The Lord came to us and bound our broken hearts. We did nothing to earn it or deserve it. He came to use simply because He loves us. 2. In our own power we are completely useless. Because of the Holy Spirit's presence in our lives, God has chosen us to be a vessel to proclaim good news and, in turn, He will heal the broken hearted with His good news and His son. Not because we're all that and a bag of chips but because He is just that good. And, quite frankly, He doesn't need us to bind up anything. He chooses to use us to point to Him and glorify Him more.
"...proclaim freedom for the captives..." AND "...release from darkness the prisoners..."
This is what God's glory and Spirit in our lives does. We were once slaves to sin, darkness, insecurities, addictions, bad thoughts, prideful thoughts, lying, adultery, homosexuality, murder, or anything else that you can name that held you captive. Maybe murder or homosexuality isn't on your list of baggage that you once carried but it is on someone's list. Then Jesus came in, like a knight in shining armor, with a crown of thorns and pierced hands and feet and saved us from all of our sin and released us from the bondage that Satan had put in our lives. He released us from our own prisons; some of them, we made ourselves or threw ourselves into them. Some prisons, we were born into and we feel like it is part of our identity and we'll never be "good enough" because of it. Jesus has released you from that prison and from that darkness. You are no longer a slave to whatever held you captive before and you are child of God, chosen, holy, and dearly loved.
"...comfort all who mourn..." AND "...provide for those who grieve..."
I don't know what you're going through. I don't know what prisons you come from and I don't know what God has asked you to walk through. But what I do know is this: Whatever God has brought you to, He will provide and way through it. He would never ask you to do something that you thought was too tough if He did not intend to walk with you every single step of the way. The question then becomes this: Do you trust Him enough to walk through it? This is a question I have to ask myself every single day. Do I trust Him to provide for me? Do I trust Him to comfort me and strengthen me? Some days, my heart says yes but my actions say, "HECK NO. Stressing and taking control of the situation will totally make it better." Does it ever? HECK NO. So stop fighting Him, controlling the situation, worrying, pointing fingers, and walking away. He will walk you through it and you will be so much better because of it.
"...bestow on them a crown of beauty...."
In this verse, there is also a lot of things that I have underlined.
He gives us BEAUTY instead of ASHES: Some days we feel like our lives are doing nothing but falling apart. We look back on our day or week and can't name any single situation where we've done the right thing. We grieve the Holy Spirit's presence in our lives because we know we messed up and we sometimes think that things would be so much easier fi we didn't love Jesus. We sit back and look at our ashes for the week but that's not what the Lord sees. He sees that we recognize where we went wrong and that we can do so much better. He comes in and turns those ashes to beauty because in those moments where we chose the wrong thing, we deserved death and hell. But God gave us grace in every single moment and poured out His blood for every single moment. Our beauty doesn't come from the things we do but from what He has done in our lives.
He gives us oil of GLADNESS instead of MOURNING/He gives us a garment of PRAISE instead of DESPAIR: We can rejoice in the Lord because of our beauty. We could spend all of days mourning and grieving over our sin (and we should be grieved by our sin) but the Lord wants us to be glad because of His gift. We don't have to be ashamed of our past prisons and our past sins because the Lord has delivered us from those prisons and sins to eternity with Him and peace and gladness that only His presence can explain.
The last part of the verse says, "They will be called oaks of righteousness, planting of the Lord for the display of His splendor." We ought to be deeply rooted and planted in the Lord and His righteousness. The only way that happens is by doing what you are doing now: reading the Scripture for yourself and then meditating on it. Commentaries are good and useful tools but they aren't a substitute for the voice of the Lord speaking through Scripture. Also, commentaries aren't also completely true. Test everything you read with Scripture. Hey, even test what I am saying with Scripture. I'm just human and I definitely don't have everything figured out.
Now let's look at verses 4-7.
Verse 4 says, "They will rebuild ancient ruins and restore places long devastated; they will renew ruined cities that have been devastated for generations." For me, when I read this, I think about what we said earlier about releasing prisoners. We can do nothing apart from Christ active and working in our own lives. There is no way the Lord will use us as a guide or mentor to other people if He is not actively working and changing your life. You are never too old to learn something from the Lord. You are never too smart to learn something new about Scripture. Honey, you will never have it all figured out. So grow and change as the Lord molds you and breathes new life into you, even when you're 85. He will restore parts of your heart that you never thought anyone could heal or revive. As you change in Him, He will use your experiences to bring others to Him so that He can do the same work in them.
Skipping ahead to verse 7, it says, "Instead of your shame, you will receive a double portion, and instead of disgrace, you will rejoice in inheritance. And so, you will receive a double portion in your land, and everlasting joy will be yours." If that verse doesn't make you want to jump up and down for joy, I don't know what will! Every single day of our lives we deserve death, hell, and the grave but King Jesus faced those things for us so that we could have everlasting joy in Him. Every single day we out to be ashamed of our sin but instead, God gives us a double portion of joy. We ought to die in disgrace to the Lord because of our sin but instead He gives us a double portion of our inheritance, which is heaven. How great and marvelous is the Lord and His grace! He is so so good, y'all! Because of the Lord's grace and mercy, we receive a double portion of joy instead of shame. Put that on a mug!
Finally, let's look at the rest of the chapter, verses 8-11.
In verse 8, it tells us what the Lord hates and understand that apart from Him and His grace, we are everything He hates. We are robbery and wrongdoing, we are injustice, and I think it is easy to point those things out about the world but it's harder to recognize those things in ourselves. We know the world doesn't love Jesus but we try hard to glorify Him and His Word. It almost feels like we're being unfair to people who are trying, people like us. It's hard to hear that we are everything that the Lord hates but verse 9 gives us so much hope. "...they are a people the Lord has blessed." Yes, without Christ and His sacrifice, there is nothing about us that is attractive to the Lord that He would love us and want us. Absolutely nothing. BUT Christ has bridged the gap and has turned our ashes to beauty, released us from our prisons, given us a double portion of joy and our inheritance, and on top of all of that, He has blessed us. We are so unworthy.
What is our response to those incredible gifts the Lord has given us?
Verse 10 says, "I delight greatly in the Lord; my soul rejoices in my God. For He has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me with a robe of righteousness..."
We are the so-loved and adored bride of Christ and the only thing we can do that properly honors Him is praise Him and rejoice in Him and our relationship with Him. We get to keep Him forever and one day, we will be in His sweet, sweet presence forever.
Verse 11 is our hope for our lives and the hope for our world: "For as the soil makes the sprout to come up, and the garden causes seeds to grow, so the Sovereign Lord will make righteousness and praise spring up before all nations."
So next time you find your sweet, precious self doubting who you are and how you are useful to the kingdom of God, reread Isaiah 61 and see that this short chapter is who you ARE and what you have been promised. He has given us so much already. Brace yourselves, it's about to get even better.
Will you join me by putting your print out of Isaiah 61 somewhere where you will see it every single day and meditate on it for the rest of April? Together we change how we think about ourselves and, in turn, how we see those around us. Together, we can put out the lies of Satan by focusing on the truth of Scripture found in just eleven short verses. The Lord spoke the entire world into being with fewer words than what is found in these eleven verses. That's how powerful His words are in our lives.
I am currently a teacher and life-long student of Scripture learning more about life and Jesus's marvelous love and boundless grace.