Clothing is more than a practical tool to protect us from the elements, it is also deeply informative. It can be an indication of someone’s emotional state, a social marker for wealth and class. It can inform us of which cultures people belong to, what religions they follow, what work people do, and what they are up to.
Have you ever watched those transformation videos where homeless people get a new haircut, new clothes, and look completely different?
I’ve seen a few and there are some tearjerkers out there. One video, in particular, showed a homeless man who hadn’t had a wash in years, his clothes were in shreds, and his hair overgrown. His clothing and his soleless shoes told a story of pain and poverty. In the video, a few kind men showed up to give him a wash, new clothes, and new shoes which began a new story of restoration and hope as they supported him out of poverty.
The clothing was indicative of the change going on in his life as his story was transformed from one of despair to one of joy, reminding me of the verse in Isaiah 61:3, “and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.”
The garment of praise is a brightly coloured cloak associated with celebration depicting an image of gratitude and appreciation people have for God. It is completely opposite to the sackcloth worn in ancient times which was a sign of mourning and grief. And it signposts us to what Jesus fulfills on earth and to His promise that there will be no more mourning, nor crying found in Revelation 21:4.
With the backdrop of COVID, it hasn’t been an easy year. For many, it’s been marked with frustration, uncertainty, and heart ache causing many’s spirit to be faint and weak. Jesus promises to replace our spirit of despair by giving us a garment of praise. And in doing so, invites us to praise Him through the uncertainty, praise Him through the pain, praise Him through hardship because praise is a powerful weapon which renews our minds and hearts as we focus on Jesus. It’s a weapon the psalmist David was familiar with as we see him constantly praise God through his trials and turmoil.
In your difficulty, how will you choose praise and allow the joy of the Lord to renew and restore you?
We invite you to join us as we journey slowly and prayerfully through Isaiah 61 - line by line over forty days.