Isaiah 53:3-5 He was despised and rejected—a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief. We turned our backs on him and looked the other way. He was despised, and we did not care. Yet it was our weaknesses he carried; it was our sorrows that weighed him down . . . But he was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed.
Last night I had dinner with a dear friend. As she said, it was refreshing to catch up, and laugh. We also talked about grief. She lost her husband, young, to cancer. I lost my daughter. For both of us, the holidays are challenging. Strangely enough, harder for me this year than last year. My friend reminded me that grief has its own logic. It comes in waves and catches us off guard, because we will never stop missing those we love who are no longer with us. We talked about how real Heaven is to us, how close. How we imagine the joy of our beloved ones who are there.
And we talked about my grieving over what I’ve been learning about the history of our country. She directed me back to Jesus, who can carry this burden that is too great for us. He experienced, in his own body, all of it. For us.
Today would be my mother’s 93rd birthday. We lost her to Alzheimer’s long before she was freed from it, and from all the other sorrows of her life, in the presence of Jesus. It will be amazing, one day, to see her again, healed. Whole. Because Isaiah also wrote about Jesus, that though he was crushed, “He will not crush the weakest reed” (Isaiah 42:3). The whole passage is encouraging me today:
Look at my servant, whom I strengthen. He is my chosen one, who pleases me. I have put my Spirit upon him. He will bring justice to the nations. He will not shout or raise his voice in public. He will not crush the weakest reed or put out a flickering candle. He will bring justice to all who have been wronged. He will not falter or lose heart until justice prevails throughout the earth.
In verse 1, “servant,” in Hebrew, is ‘ebed. The word is also used in Isaiah 53, in verse 11. It refers to a person of lower social status who is subject to another person for service or labor, like an owned slave or an indentured servant. (See Philippians 2:7-8). Jesus gets it.
This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin. So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most (Hebrews 4:15-16).
By the way, have you seen the movie “Harriet” yet? And do you know that November is Native American Heritage Month? Check out the U.S. Department of Arts and Culture on FB.