Note: I originally wrote this piece back in 2010 during a time when health limitations felt a bit discouraging. Perhaps these words will encourage your heart now, as we journey to the cross again this spring.
Ever get weary? Ever need some encouragement? I do.
I’ve never found renewal or encouragement by focusing on hard circumstances, but when I turn my face to Him, He comforts me.
I’m thankful for the verses that tell us Jesus was a man of sorrows, acquainted with grief; I’m thankful that we have hope beyond this life and these bodies. Take a look at Isaiah 53:2-12.
Sometimes I feel discouraged by the idea that my life’s potential has been diminished by a neurological condition.
God has, over the years, shown me that this thinking is not accurate in His economy. Still it can be discouraging to have fewer opportunities to use the skills and gifts He’s given me.
Sometimes I miss looking healthy and fit, and a wheelchair or walker doesn’t make me look either. In fact, some people make assumptions about someone using such equipment and devalue them or write them off.
I miss doing counseling, writing trainings and workshops, and teaching groups. Last night I grieved some of the losses I face. However, I was so struck by the passage in Isaiah and noticed new things as I read the New Living Translation.
Our values needn’t be shaped by the world, but by the example of our Savior. Early in the chapter we read that there would be nothing beautiful or majestic about the Messiah’s appearance, nothing to attract us to Him. Verse 3 tells us that Jesus was despised and rejected—a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief. Last night this verse comforted me as tears warmed my cheeks.
The next verse reminds us that it was our weaknesses He carried, it was our sorrows that weighed him down.
He suffered horrible abuse— Jesus was beaten and whipped, suffering ultimately for our wholeness and healing. He was pierced for our rebellion, and crushed for our sins. Jesus knew oppression and harsh treatment. Yet he never said a word.
Isaiah 53:8 really struck me because sometimes I feel sad that I will never have my own biological children. It says, “Unjustly condemned, he was led away.” (The footnote shares that in the Greek version it says: He was humiliated and received no justice. Compare Acts 8:33.) No one cared that Jesus died without descendants, that his life was cut short in midstream. (One Greek version reads: Who can speak of his descendants? For his life was taken from the earth.)
Isaiah 53:8 wraps up saying, “For he was struck down for the rebellion of my people.” The passage continues to speak to my heart. Imagine the Creator of the Universe, the Son of God, being mocked, crucified and buried as if he were a vile criminal. Imagine Isaiah prophesying these things would happen, and every detail being fulfilled.
When I read verse 10, it spoke profoundly to my heart: “But it was the Lord’s good plan to crush him and cause him grief. Yet when his life is made an offering for sin, he will have many descendants. He will enjoy a long life, and the Lord’s good plan will prosper in his hands.”
Catch that—Jesus will have many descendants…and this is only possible because of Christ’s willingness to suffer and die in order to redeem all of us who would believe on His name and find life for all eternity. Verse 11 says, “When he sees all that is accomplished by his anguish, he will be satisfied…”
By His death and resurrection, it is possible for many of us to be counted righteous, for the Savior would bear all of our sins. Our dirty hearts and lives are washed clean in the blood of the Savior. We are set free!
Beautiful! Instead of a few earthly descendants, Jesus will have thousands of descendants throughout eternity, and who knows what impact our lives can have when yielded fully to the Savior’s loving eternal purposes.
In our suffering, we have the opportunity to be conformed further into the image of God’s Son, Jesus Christ. As He abides in us, and we abide in Him, eternal mysteries are accomplished. Christ in you, the hope of glory…that’s a mystery that gives life and hope to weary souls.
We will run and not grow weary, walk and not faint as we learn to follow in the example of the Messiah who willingly laid down His life for our redemption. He chose to do the Father’s will and accept the cup of suffering as He allowed those who opposed Him to nail Him to the cross after beating and mocking Him.
His sacrifice and intense suffering paid off in exponentially greater, eternal ways than we could grasp with our finite minds.
Because Christ obeyed the will of the Father, we have the opportunity to be joint-heirs with Him!
Though we may know infirmity and severe suffering in this life, we have a hope and joy that can transcend these limitations and hardships.
I love Hebrews 12:1-2, and will close with these words: “Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (NASB)
Let’s learn from the example of Jesus, who endured the cross for the joy set before Him. We who are redeemed by His blood are His joy.
Although I won’t ever have biological children, I have known the wonder if seeing others accept Christ as their Savior and LORD, and grow in His grace and truth. Some opportunities to share my faith have arisen precisely because God allowed me to live with multiple sclerosis.
This earthly life goes by quickly. Live it for His glory!
Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.