Listen to this devotional:
Listen while you read: "Man Of Sorrows Wondrous Name"1 (Lyrics)
Isaiah 61:3 – [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. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor. (NIV)
In a back corner of my friend's china cabinet stands the broken remains of a cranberry glass goblet. Now, why would anyone keep such a useless item? My friend provides an intriguing explanation, saying, "It reminds me of the sadness that I felt years ago when it was broken. That motivated me to replace it. Now, in place of that single goblet, I can enjoy an entire collection of authentic cranberry glass goblets — over there in that other cabinet."
There they stand, filling the top shelf, displayed in splendour. A soft light draws out the ruby colour and makes them glow elegantly. The collection is truly a feast for the eye! In contrast, the broken goblet is hardly a soothing sight! The sharp edges of broken glass remind me of injury and pain. But that's the point: The broken goblet makes the replacement set intensely satisfying to behold!
Now, consider the broken shards of human civilization. Consider how God has been preserving this damaged portion of His creation, tenderly sheltering it in a little corner of His vast universe. Why would He do that? My friend provides a clue: It's "for the display of His splendor". In other words, sin's abrasive edge points us to the insurmountable value of God's goodness.
Friends, every moment of our existence is immersed in two contrasting entities: sin's brokenness and God's lavish grace through Christ. Which of the two occupies our thoughts most? It's important to notice. If we keep on turning over sin's broken fragments in our hands, we will cut ourselves and each other. That's like continually despairing over the ashes. It's destructive! Frankly, it's un-Christian.
As we are renewed by God's grace, we discover His grace to be amazing and generous, like an infinite collection of precious goblets, each overflowing with spiritual blessings to help us live effectively in this broken world. To know grace is to recognize it as God's multifaceted replacement plan — God's substitute for sin's grip. How can we not marvel over such a gift? How can we not think about it endlessly? How can we not talk about it?
I find myself craving to know more of His grace, especially as sin's antidote. Grace can shield me from the temptation to let sin's abrasiveness drive me away from God instead of deeper into His love. Perhaps, you also long to know more of His grace. If so, then why not pray with me:
Prayer: Gracious Father, instill in me a holy dissatisfaction with my impoverished knowledge of grace. Enlarge my capacity to take hold of Your provision, that my life may increasingly serve to display Your splendour. Amen.