Fresh courage

But Jesus bears our sorrows

Isaiah 53:4-5 Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows … upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed.

I’m sticking my neck out today, telling a very personal story in case someone out there needs it.

Palm Sunday at Church of the Ascension is full of drama, as are all the Holy Week services. Yesterday, though, my mind fixated on Isaiah 53:4 and 5 and I missed much of what ensued. I didn’t even really hear the words as they were read in the service. When I saw the reading was from Isaiah 53, the KJV leaped to my mind, reflected in the ESV quoted above.

I fought to control my tears, not wanting to disturb the people around me. If you carry our griefs and sorrows, why, Lord, am I still drowning in grief? I’ve tried hard all week to give it to you …

Later in the service, I noticed a precious friend rise to go forward for communion. I heard the Lord say, “Go to her.” So after I received communion, I walked all the way around the nave to where she was sitting and whispered, “Can you pray for me?” She made room, and asked what was wrong.

All I could say through my tears was, “A dear transplant friend died last week while Dave and I were in Ireland. After her beautiful memorial service, others from the transplant community retold their own stories. It ripped me wide open. I feel like I’m drowning in grief. I don’t understand this. It’s been nine years since Karis died.”

My friend bowed her head for a while, then she said, “I see you surrounded by God’s love. Wherever you turn, his love is there, huge, deep, encompassing. It’s all tied to the blood Jesus shed for you. But I see a hole in your heart. You need to ask him to fill it.”

Only then I realized the congregation was singing, “What can make me whole again? Nothing but the blood of Jesus,” which snapped me back to Isaiah 53:4-5. I asked Jesus to fill the hole in my heart.

Instantly the grief was gone.

Just like that, I could breathe again. I saw myself small, suspended somehow in the center of immense, radiating warmth and light. I reached out to take it in, soaking in the Lord’s comfort and care.

The whole thing took perhaps three minutes. Maybe less.

I told my friend I needed some time alone with Jesus to understand what was happening. I slipped into a chapel near us, off the main sanctuary, where I could be still and alone with the Lord. Engraved on the chapel altar is a carving of the Lamb on the throne “looking as if it had been slain” (Rev. 5:5-6). I’ve been in that chapel countless times but don’t remember noticing before the carving on the altar. Carved angels on each side invited me to join them in worship of the Lamb who allowed me to see him bearing my grief and sorrow, thanks to the spiritual vision and intercession of the friend to whom God had directed me.

I’m relating this because in the economy of the Kingdom, I believe such experiences are given to us not only for our personal benefit, but to encourage others as well. I hope this will be the case for you.

Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take,

The clouds ye so much dread

Are big with mercy, and shall break

In blessings on your head.

From “Light Shining in Darkness” by William Cowper (18th c.). Listen here, at minute 53:03; this verse is at 54:22. Full text here.

7 thoughts on “Fresh courage

  1. Wow! You really did go out on a limb! Thank you for your courage and for sharing the light of God with us. May each of us be willing to take our griefs and sorrows to God. May we, like you, find others who can carry us there if we’re not making it.

    Liked by 1 person

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