"The oil of joy instead of mourning..." (Isaiah 61:3)
There has been much to mourn since the start of 2020. We have said goodbye to people very close to us, we have had dreams dismantled and livelihoods lost, we have had hopes for a specific future evaporate. Our mourning has been real and necessary and for many that mourning will continue.
What this passage also declares is you are not alone and that mourning is not a permanent state - there is comfort and healing at hand. The oil of joy is the gift of the Holy Spirit and the Holy Spirit reveals and gives a joy that is more than the reality of our circumstances and even our difficult emotions.
The promise in this scripture is this, that joy is bestowed, it is given, it isn’t something we can access on our own, we need to receive it from the giver. Sometimes we long to be teleported out of our negative emotions to the ones that make us feel good, but joy instead of mourning is not an instant exchange. Mourning is the designated path for our pain to find a much-needed expression and eventually acceptance. As we receive the oil of joy it gradually begins to seep into places we can’t access or fix on our own, it loosens parts that have been stuck and afraid and slowly begins to envelop us, our feelings, and our emotions.
Christ, because of the joy set before Him, endured the cross because ultimately he knew there would be the joy instead of mourning. This is the same joy that is given to us, it is the joy of salvation of knowing God for us and with us. It is the undercurrent to our lives, deeper than our pain and our grief, it undergirds our mourning and eventually joy emerges victorious and begins to overflow.
How can you receive more of the oil of joy today? Start by thanking God for his blessings and promises.
We invite you to join us as we journey slowly and prayerfully through Isaiah 61 - line by line over forty days.