“When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion, we were like those who dreamed. Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy. Then it was said among the nations, “The Lord has done great things for them.” The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy.”
God’s people had been exiled in a far country, under the control of a harsh regime. It’s no wonder that when they were set free and returned home to Zion, the city of God, Jerusalem, that they came back rejoicing. In their years of captivity they had thought about home, dreamed of being set free and when it actually happened, all their dreams came true!
For people who have suffered greatly in their lives, often through abuse, violence, trauma or misfortune, it has seemed for them that they have been living in a far country, limited by the boundaries of their past and the things they have gone through. Day after day they have looked at other people without such limitations and dreamt of being free themselves. The consequences of their own suffering are daily in front of their eyes and, in time, they begin to lose hope of ever being able to enjoy a normal life.
But in Isaiah 61:1-4, God paints a very different picture. He talks about those who are grieving and in mourning for what they have lost, those with the broken-hearts which typify their condition. Isaiah prophecies about Jesus when he says that He would “proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners.” When you see a beautiful butterfly emerge from the encrusted exterior of a chrysalis, you marvel at the miracle of God’s creative genius. But in just the same way, when you see God bring healing to those who have suffered greatly, you marvel at the miracle of healing as another prisoner ‘returns to Zion’ and rejoices in their freedom from captivity.
The Lord truly does great things for those who come to Him with open and humble hearts. He longs, like the father of the prodigal son, to put his arms of love around them, help them to forgive those who have hurt them, set them free from the work of the enemy in their lives and give them back their joy. What a testimony it is into a world that has forgotten about God – when they see the fruit of God’s healing and restoring love in the life of one individual who has returned home in joy!
Prayer: Thank You, Lord, for the great things You have done for me – and for the great things You continue to do in setting the captives free to love and serve You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.