One January morning I woke expecting to see the same dreary midwinter landscape that had greeted me for several weeks: beige grass poking through patches of snow, gray skies, and skeletal trees. Something unusual had happened overnight, though. A frost had coated everything with ice crystals. The lifeless and depressing landscape had become a beautiful scene that glistened in the sun and dazzled me.
Sometimes we view problems without the imagination it takes to have faith. We expect pain, fear, and despair to greet us every morning, but overlook the possibility of something different ever happening. We don’t expect recovery, growth, or victory through God’s power. Yet the Bible says God is the one who helps us through difficult times. He repairs broken hearts and liberates people in bondage. He comforts the grieving with “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” (Isaiah 61:3).
It isn’t that God just wants to cheer us up when we have problems. It’s that He Himself is our hope during trials. Even if we have to wait for heaven to find ultimate relief, God is present with us, encouraging us and often giving us glimpses of Himself. In our journey through life, may we come to understand St. Augustine’s words: “In my deepest wound I saw your glory, and it dazzled me.”
To learn more about helping people, visit christianuniversity.org/CC205.
More than seven centuries after the book of Isaiah was written, Luke recorded that when Jesus stood up to read in the synagogue in His hometown of Nazareth “the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him” (Luke 4:17). Standing to read (v. 16) was a common synagogue practice in that day (as was sitting to teach, v. 20). When Jesus read what we know as Isaiah 61:1–2, He didn’t include the second half of verse 2—“and the day of vengeance of our God.” Presumably He stopped where He did because the focus of His ministry wasn’t the punishment of Israel or her enemies. He’d come to save; His focus was rescue as seen through His liberating works and His death and resurrection (see Luke 19:10)