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man comforting woman July 22 Chronological Bible Study

Timeline. Map. Go to today’s Bible reading: Isaiah 61, 62, 63, 64, 65, 66

Hope for the Hurting

Many people are hurting. They may be hurting because of sickness or injury, or by foolish mistakes, or by uncontrollable circumstances. How do we minister to them in their pain? In most cases we do not want to add to their pain by words of judgment. What do we do?

First, have pity. As has been said a few times previously, Isaiah's ministry was to both Israel and Judah, but he was primarily a prophet to Judah. Israel was suffering exile in Egypt and Assyria. She was taken away from her homeland because of her despicable wickedness. Her sister nation was soon to follow. Isaiah records prophecies of doom for Judah and the surrounding nations in Isaiah 1-39. Judah was given the space of 150 years to repent. Though she would return to her wickedness and later be judged, Isaiah did not leave Judah without hope. Neither should we leave others without hope. We should have pity for the wounded and misled. When people are hurting they need sympathy.

The popular text of Isaiah 61:1-2a is known to refer to the sympathic ministry of our Lord Jesus (Luke 4:18-19), but in Isaiah's time, Isaiah 61:1-3 likely brought comfort to Judah as they faced their near exile. Someday, they would have joy instead of sorrow.

The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me [Isaiah], because the LORD has anointed me to bring good news to the afflicted [the exiles]; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to captives and freedom to prisoners; to proclaim the favorable year of the LORD and the day of vengeance of our God; To comfort all who mourn, to grant those who mourn in Zion, giving them a garland instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the mantle of praise instead of a spirit of fainting. So they will be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified,” (NIV).

To what ministry has God called you? If you are a Christian, you are to be like Christ, and that means exercising compassion when people are hurting. Have pity.

Second, give those who are in misery hope (but not false hope). Isaiah comforted Judah and Israel by speaking words of hope for their future: “they will rebuild the ancient ruins, they will raise up the former devastations; and they will repair the ruined cities, the desolations of many generations,” (Isaiah 61:4, NIV). After Judah would finally be taken away to Babylon and all Israel would be in captive misery for seventy years, she would repent. Then God would have mercy on her. Kings of Persia, under the sovereign direction of God, would allow any willing Israelites to return to their land and rebuild their temple and the city of Jerusalem. God would indeed be merciful. We, too, need to be merciful. We should strengthen the spirits of those who hurt with good words so that they might praise the Lord, even in difficult circumstances.

Third, to those who are hurting we need to instill confidence in God. God would work in mighty ways to restore Israel, both in the near and distant future. Their nation would be quickly restored, like a country being birthed in a single day (Isaiah 66:8). That happened in the days of King Cyrus of Persia. One day in the future, Jesus Christ will come to Israel's rescue personally when she is besieged by many nations. In a bloody battle he will save all Israel (Isaiah 63:1-6; Revelation 19:11-21). He will restore them. He will give them peace and respect, a beautiful land with bountiful vineyards, and much wealth. God’s Son will rule from Jerusalem over the entire world in justice and righteousness for a thousand years (Revelation 20:4), and then into eternity. What future blessings there will be for Israel! Let’s be like Isaiah. The prophet said,

I will tell of the kindnesses of the LORD, the deeds for which he is to be praised, according to all the LORD has done for us-- yes, the many good things he has one for the house of Israel, according to his compassion and many kindnesses,” (Isaiah 63:7, NIV).

God will provide sustaining grace through our trials and deliver us in the end. God is not only Israel’s God; he is our God, too.

Last, encourage the downtrodden to draw near to God in their times of trouble. Trials and troubles are not an indication of sin in every case, but it often was for Israel. They needed to remember the former days when times were good and they were blessed. They needed to seek the LORD and repent (Isaiah 64). Now they were being punished for their sins. From Isaiah 65 and 66 we learn that only those who would repent would be able to return to their land and receive God’s blessings. He will make all things new in the end. Those who repent are the ones who would truly belong to Him. The wicked will suffer. If our sins are hurting us, we should remember “the goodness of God leads us to repentance,” (Romans 2:4, NIV). He restores those who truly repent. Whether or not our pain comes from sin, sickness or circumstances, these are the times to seek the LORD and draw near to him. He brings healing for our souls, and someday he may bring healing for our bodies.

Lessons to live by:

  • Let us be like Jesus and help the hurting. Let us have pity on them, give them hope, instill confidence in God, remind them of God’s many kindnesses to them, and encourage them to draw near to God in their times of pain.
  • Minister to hurting people and God will be glorified and pleased with you.
  • Are you hurting because of wrong things you have done? God offers you forgiveness, peace and spiritual life (more...)
  • If you are in pain, remember the goodness of God and draw your strength from Him. God does care. Times will be better. God will deliver the righteous.

Today’s Bible memory verse: Job 16:5 “But my mouth would encourage you; comfort from my lips would bring you relief.” (NIV)

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