woman praying in sunshine July 22 Chronological Bible Study

Timeline. Map. Go to today’s Bible reading (NIV) or alternate versions (use your browser arrow to return): Isaiah 61, 62, 63, 64, 65, 66

Hope for the Hurting

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

First, have pity. As was said a few times previously, Isaiah's ministry was to both Israel and Judah, but he was primarily a prophet to Judah. In 722 B.C. Assyria conquered Israel and took the survivors away from their homeland because of their despicable wickedness. Israel's sister nation is soon to follow. Isaiah records prophecies of doom for Judah and the surrounding nations in Isaiah 1–39, but Judah is given 150 years to turn to God away from their sins. Under some kings, she repents, but she returns to her wickedness and is later judged. Isaiah does not leave Judah without hope, however. Neither should we leave others without hope. We should have pity for the wounded and those who are misled. When people are hurting they need sympathy.

In today's Bible reading, Isaiah brings comfort to Judah as they face their near exile. Someday, they will 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” (Isaiah 61:1-3, NIV).

Those who are familiar with the teachings of the Bible may recognize these verses. About 600 years after Isaiah finished his prophecy, Jesus read Isaiah 61:1-2a in the synagogue, applying it to his ministry. (Luke 4:18-19). In the immediate context, however, it refers to the exiles.

To what ministries has God called us? If we are Christians, we are called to be like Christ, which means exercising compassion when people are hurting. Let's have pity.

Second, we should give hope to those who are in misery (but not false hope). Isaiah comforts 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 is taken to Babylon and all Israel is in captivity for seventy years, she will repent. Then God will have mercy on her. Kings of Persia, under the sovereign direction of God, will allow any Israelites to return to their land and rebuild their temple and city walls. God will indeed be merciful. We, too, need to be merciful. We should strengthen the spirits of those who hurt with good words so they might praise the Lord, even in difficult circumstances.

Third, to those who are hurting we need to instill confidence in the LORD. God will work in mighty ways to restore Israel, both in the near and distant future. Their nation will be quickly restored, like a country being birthed in a single day (Isaiah 66:8). This happens in the days of King Cyrus of Persia. One day, Jesus Christ will come to Israel's rescue personally when she is attacked 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, 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 says,

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. The LORD is not only Israel’s God; He is our God, too.

Last, we can 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 turn from their sins and seek the LORD (Isaiah 64). Now they are being punished for their sins. From Isaiah 65 and 66 we learn that only those who turn to God from their sins will 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 are truly remorseful. 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 will bring healing for our bodies.

Lessons to Live By

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

Focus Verse

Job 16:5 (NIV) “But my mouth would encourage you; comfort from my lips would bring you relief.”

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A Look Ahead: The LORD is good. We have a choice to Turn Away From or Toward God.

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