Monday, March 4, 2013

Devotional: Isaiah 58:10

If you pour yourself out for the hungry
and satisfy the desire of the afflicted,
then shall your light rise in the darkness
and your gloom be as the noonday.

Today, I asked God what text He wanted me to study.  I opened my Bible, curious about the highlighting I'd done previously in the middle of the book.  It was Isaiah 58, a chapter the Lord had led me to once before.  This particular verse jumped out at me, and I figured this was the one God wanted me to take a closer look at.  

The first line states: "If you pour yourself out for the hungry".  Most people might give to the hungry, maybe feed them a meal, give them some money, or pray for them.  But the text says "pour yourself out." This brings to mind a pitcher pouring out water.

Water flows freely when poured.  Nothing stops it.  It conjures images of generosity and refreshment.  Pouring yourself out also reminds me of emptying yourself of "self", and filling yourself up with God, allowing HIS Living Water to flow from your heart.

The second line says: "and satisfy the desire of the afflicted".  The desire of the afflicted is to be healthy, in no more pain, either mental or physical.  You put their needs before your own and serve them.  You don't just help them, you satisfy their desires.  You continue to help until they are well once more.  Until they can stand on their own.  Whatever it takes, your time, your money, your possessions, your strength.

"Then shall your light rise in the darkness".  You will become a light in a dark land.  Within you will be hope.  Love.  Mercy.  GRACE.  The more you pour yourself out, the more you feed the hungry and help the poor and afflicted, the more you will look like CHRIST.  All charity is GRACE.  Perhaps these folks made poor business decisions.  Ate the wrong things.  Smoked all their lives.  Maybe they ruined their health by taking drugs or were abused by their spouses.  It matters not the "why" of how they hit hard times.  What matters is being a LIGHT to them, and that is Grace.  

The "darkness" is their affliction, their medical issue, their poverty, their shame, their nakedness, their hunger, their homelessness.  But the light within you will shine, and they will see a glimpse of God through you.

The final text in this passage says, "and your gloom be as the noonday".  This is a very telling text.  Some translations say "your darkness" rather than "gloom".  But the gist remains the same.  Your problems will become strangely dim in comparison.  If you help the needy and feed the hungry, if you truly make a habit of pouring yourself out for others so that the light of God can shine through you, then your problems will be as nothing.  Compared to having no fresh drinking water, your water heater on the fritz is no big deal.  Compared to having empty cupboards, your lean grocery budget is not a huge issue.  Compared to the death of a loved one, your annoying cold is nothing to worry about.  Compared to having no shoes, your beat-up pair of tennies is not a high priority.

When you help those in need, you become acutely aware of all you have to be thankful for.  When you help the hungry, you begin to see how greatly God has blessed you, even if you'd previously thought He'd been ignoring you.  When others become the focus of your life instead of yourself, your eyes are on their problems and not your own, and thus, your "gloom becomes as noonday".  You are happy to help them.  Your joy comes from serving them.  You know without a doubt God blesses you, and in that, you are content.  Your problems are no longer mountains.  Your valleys are no longer so vast.

In helping others, you ultimately help yourself.  You become more like Christ.  And it shows in the Light you shine all around.


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