Focus: Laying hold of the reward
Isaiah 58:10b-12 (NKJV) Then your light shall dawn in the darkness, and your darkness shall be as the noonday. The Lord will guide you continually, and satisfy your soul in drought, and strengthen your bones; you shall be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail. Those from among you shall build the old waste places; you shall raise up the foundations of many generations; and you shall be called the repairer of the breach, the restorer of streets to dwell in.
I remember learning about ‘if, then’ – or ‘conditional statements’ as a young student in school. The teacher used the United States government as an example. She explained in elementary school terms about some of the rights and benefits we have as Americans. She told about other countries who don’t have as much freedom as we have. She talked about taxes and the armed forces and the other responsibilities we have as citizens of our country. She also spent time talking about the benefits of being responsible. When she was finished, it was easy to understand that a conditional statement involved responsibility and entitlement.
As we read the Bible, we are so quick to want the blessing of God—so eager for the rewards…but sometimes reluctant regarding the ‘responsibility’ that brings ‘entitlement’. The verses above from Isaiah 58 are the ‘then’ part of a conditional statement.
Now, you can listen and/or read!
Responsibility is not something most people ‘jump at’ when they are recovering from depression and dependency. It seems like you’re hardly able to ‘hold your own’—much less take an interest in the welfare of other people. Yet, responsibility is sometimes the best thing for us. Sometimes we really need to get our eyes off ourselves and onto others. At this point, you might be tempted to skip the rest of the reading for today—but I challenge you to stay with me. This could be something very important in your recovery journey.
I couldn’t print the ‘then’ verses above in clear conscience—without also printing the ‘if’. So, let’s take a look and see what the rest of the passage says.
The prophet Isaiah is giving the Word of the Lord about fasting and how far off the track people often are with their intentions. God says He is displeased with the way we try to make it look like we’re doing everything right—when we’re not. When God is finished telling about the wrong things we do when we fast, He goes on to say:
“Is this not the fast that I have chosen: to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, to let the oppressed go free, and that you break every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, and that you bring to your house the poor who are cast out; when you see the naked, that you cover him, and not hide yourself from your own flesh (family responsibility)? Then your light shall break forth like the morning, your healing shall spring forth speedily, and your righteousness shall go before you; the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard. Then shall you call, and the Lord will answer; you shall cry and He will say, ‘Here I am.’ If you take away the yoke from your midst, the pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness…”
The verses that follow what you just finished reading are: “Then your light shall dawn in the darkness, and your darkness shall be as the noonday. The Lord will guide you continually, and satisfy your soul in drought, and strengthen your bones; you shall be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail. Those from among you shall build the old waste places; you shall raise up the foundations of many generations; and you shall be called the repairer of the breach, the restorer of streets to dwell in.”
Being depressed and dependent looks a lot like being bound with the bonds of wickedness, loaded down with heavy burdens, being oppressed and in bondage, doesn’t it? God makes it clear that the first thing we need to do is ‘get free’—which you’re trying to do. But as soon as that statement ends the Word jumps right into the importance of sharing your food, your home, and your clothing with people who are in need…and later it mentions keeping the Sabbath, also.
God tells us the way to really get His attention and have Him hear our prayers. If we are generous to the poor, He’ll make us shine as lights and we’ll be healed and strengthened. Our righteousness will go before us and the glory of the Lord behind us. When we call, He will answer—when we stop judging others and speaking negative words.
Feeling alone is a part of depression and dependency that we can solve. When we reach out to those who are less fortunate than we are, we will make new companions. Looking for friends who can help us is not as precious in God’s sight as looking for friends we can help.
Declaration: I will find new strength by taking responsibility as I move forward. By helping others, I will be healed.
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All NEW STRENGTH posts are Copyright by Christina Cook Lee 2012. Please request permission to re-post or re-blog.