The spirit of the Lord God is upon me,
because the Lord has anointed me;
he has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed,
to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives,
and release to the prisoners;
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor,
and the day of vengeance of our God;
to comfort all who mourn;
to provide for those who mourn in Zion—
to give them a garland instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness instead of mourning,
the mantle of praise instead of a faint spirit.
What does mourning look like for you? Most of the time, when someone is in mourning, it’s after the passing of a loved one or friend. And that is a holy and painful place. But I want to reflect on a different type of mourning that affects me currently.
I call it mundane mourning. Mundane because it’s a subtle thought or feeling that comes, oftentimes more than once, during the day when I’m doing something else. Can I be honest with you? My wife and I have been married almost 3 years and we have a one year old baby girl who is absolutely amazing. But, there are days when I mourn over the life I had before. I’ve only been a Presbyterian for a few short years and there are days when I mourn the loss of my “evangelical” “faith”. Covid-19 has been here a little over a year now, and I mourn the life we all had before this disease hit.
It’s so easy to sit with these thoughts and this mourning and let it build and build until it transforms into resentment. And, especially in regards to relationships, resentment is a dangerous and unhealthy place to be.
But, these Scriptures in Isaiah 61:1-3 give us hope, even in the midst of our deepest and darkest mourning. It points us toward the Anointed One. There is such beautiful and strong language in the first two verses. Language that almost feels too grand to apply to our lives.
But then, the final verse gives us a very individualized picture of what the Anointed One is going to do for those of us who mourn; comfort, provide, give us garland instead of ashes, praise instead of a faint spirit. Isaiah is pointing toward a better future and a better hope while still acknowledging the current mourning.
Lent, for me, is a time to reflect and mourn on the ways I’ve come up short in my Christian witness. And mourning, in this time, is necessary and needed. But these Scriptures remind us that there is a Hope to point toward, even when it’s Saturday and Jesus is dead and the world seems as dark as ever. The pangs of mourning remind us of our humanity while pointing us to the promise of Resurrection through Jesus.