“[He has sent me] to provide for those who grieve in Zion— to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.”
Isaiah 61:3, NIV
This morning, as I was listening to the news, something caught my attention. The presenter was talking about a relatively new way to ‘cure’, or counter-attack depression. This method, called Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation, is recognized in the US and Israel, but still being tested in other places, and involves stimulating with a magnet the area of our brain, as big as a 50p coin, that regulates our emotions (whether it’s sadness or joy). A doctor explained that, when we are depressed, this part of our nervous system is almost non-active, hence the idea of stimulating it to improve the spirits of the patient. My curiosity aroused, I listened closely, as they debated the efficiency of this innovation.
Soon after, as I was reading Isaiah 61, the Lord suddenly struck a chord in my heart with the verse above – ‘Ashes’, ‘mourning’, ‘despair’. God was talking about depression there! He was basically saying that He’d sent and anointed Jesus as THE remedy against depression. It suddenly dawned on me that scientists had been looking for a way to improve or heal the symptoms of depression but they’d often by-passed the real, broken-heart condition of a person. This verse, however, tells us of a God of compassion, who brings real healing, His healing, to those that are desperate, helpless, hopeless (‘flat’, as the part of our brain that we mentioned earlier).
It’s interesting that Isaiah describes the contrary of a ‘spirit of despair’ as a ‘garment of praise!’ When I was a teenager I remember being incapable of singing because my heart had been so broken. I despaired when I realised how much ‘spark’ had gone out of me, and how I’d got to the point of just letting life go on around me. But little by little God’s love undertook a major work of healing in me, and one day, to my amazement, I found myself able to sing worship songs. I could literally feel my spirit breathe, and knew God had already accomplished a huge work of restoration in me. David said in Psalm 23:3, ‘He restores my soul’ and it’s my prayer that those who are mourning today should experience that restoration.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, thank You so much for the hope that You bring to us. You’ve come to heal the broken-hearted and You were anointed by God. Lord, I pray that today You’d give me a garment of praise in place of a broken and desperate spirit. I desire to come to You because You ARE interested in me, and because You have compassion for me. Amen.