Are you going through a challenging time right now? I am sure we all are. My family is off in another country for the next three weeks taking care of my ailing mother in-law who has broken her hip, two of my closest mentors are facing terminal diseases, financial constraints have arisen that were unexpected—and yet I have comfort. I have a Savior nigh at hand. Psalms 34:17-19 says "The righteous cry, and the Lord heareth, and delivereth them out of ALL their troubles. The LORD is nigh unto them that are of a broken spirit; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the LORD delivereth him out of them ALL.
Let me relate a personal experience. I fell from a rope-swing ten years ago this month and have sustained long-term residual deficits that have been unimproved by dietary, lifestyle, or ANY OTHER intervention—I have tried MOST of them. It is in the darkest moments of these ten years that I have found a true Friend in Jesus, ALL my sins and griefs to bear. His Word has sustained me….literally. When all feelings of worth and meaning were removed it was only His promises that bore me up. Promises like "For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind." 2 Timothy 1:7. Trials are the Lord's designed means of saving us from heartless indifference. I needed Jesus and He draws close to me.
It is in this context that I read Jesus' 'Mission Statement' and our memory text for this week ""The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He hath anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; He hath sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord." Luke 4:18-19. Here is the rub. It is only to the extent that I see or regard myself as poor that I can appreciate that unending riches and resources of selfless King Jesus and direct others to Him. It is only as I have been healed and restored by the tenderly applied balm from doctor Jesus Himself that I have undeniable confidence in His healing touch through me. I know the hold that jailer 'Fear' had on me, but praise God that Jesus unlocks me from that grip too. It is only since visiting Ophthalmologist Jesus that I realized he has restored my vision and helps me to see the needs of others. It is exciting when we see Jesus' mission statement as our mission statement. It is in brokenness that we are called and that we shine.
Over the last two years God has placed a lady in my path who was an Adventist in her past and who has fallen on hard times. She had lost all her children through illnesses and is now alone. We met telephonically after she learned that I was the last friend at the bedside of her only remaining son as he died. I cared for him as a nurse for three years to that point.
Her son had bequeathed to her his collection of rare books—many of them Adventist—with the request that they be used to be displayed in a museum to encourage others. Having limited means she insisted on a hefty amount for them—not even knowing the contents and therefore the value of the collection.
Knowing that I was an Adventist she placed the collection in my keeping eighteen months after his death with the task of finding a buyer who could meet both stipulations—price and purpose. A friend and I who were praying for her eternal welfare were amazed when an unsolicited offer was made which not only met her asking price, but also had the mutual desire of displaying the unique collection with the goal of impacting a new generation. At the conclusion of the experience this lady and I praised God for His providence in supplying her financial need and also that of the new owner. If this is what it means to reach out to those in need—the widow and orphan?
The lesson points us to Isaiah 53:1-6 regarding the Cross and cries of the poor, but an interesting perspective on God's provision for the rich is infused in verse nine of the same chapter. "And He made his grave with the wicked, And with the rich in His death;" This prophecy was fulfilled in the time between Jesus being removed from the Cross and the Resurrection—less than thirty-six precious hours in Joseph's tomb. In Matthew 27:57-58 it states "There came a rich man of Arimathaea, named Joseph who also himself was Jesus' disciple: He went to Pilate, and begged the body of Jesus. Then Pilate commanded the body to be delivered."
To this point Jesus' body would be taken from the Cross and clumsily lumped on the burning ash-heap of Gehenna—the place where the fires never go out, but Joseph could not see this happen. Joseph, the ultra-rich Sanhedrin, had a need—the body of Jesus. What he was formerly coy to acknowledge he now boldly appealed to the top authority, Pilate, to "beg" for it. What a sight—a rich man begging a ruler for his Master's body. Touchingly he took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen cloth. Jesus would be placed in Joseph's newly hewn tomb; He would actually take Joseph's place in death. Additionally, God would be honoring His Son by having Him be covered with clean linen cloth—blotting the naked and violent preceding hours. God answers the cry of the rich.
I see myself as wrecked and poor and blind and naked. It is Jesus that is my health, my wealth, my sight and my righteousness. As He has met all my needs as my Life-source I am able to direct others to Him as theirs—receiving to give.
Thus, in the night of spiritual darkness God's glory is to shine forth through His church in lifting up the bowed down and comforting those that mourn. All around us are heard the wails of a world's sorrow. On every hand are the needy and distressed. It is ours to aid in relieving and softening life's hardships and misery. Practical work will have far more effect than mere sermonizing. We are to give food to the hungry, clothing to the naked, and shelter to the homeless. And we are called to do more than this. The wants of the soul, only the love of Christ can satisfy. If Christ is abiding in us, our hearts will be full of divine sympathy. The sealed fountains of earnest, Christlike love will be unsealed. Christ Object Lessons. p. 417