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Aug 18 2013

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God Quotes: I restore the crushed spirit

The high and lofty one who lives in eternity, the Holy One, says this: “I live in the high and holy place with those whose spirits are contrite and humble. I restore the crushed spirit of the humble and revive the courage of those with repentant hearts. (Isaiah 57:15 NLT)

I restore the crushed spirit

I have prayed for obstacles to be removed and for pain and suffering to be avoided. Even in the lives of those near and dear to me, I have prayed for a brighter and easier day. I have fooled myself into thinking that God's presence and his approval over my life is found in the smooth and easy and in the abundant, healthy place. The last number of years have given me pause on that thinking. The hardness (and harshness) of life has forced me to re-evaluate how I see life.

There have been days, hard days, in which “crushed” would accurately describe how I felt. Have you ever felt crushed? It's like the word sounds. Pressure. Pain. Weight beyond limit. A bones breaking feeling except it's the soul that is breaking. There is no kiss from Mommy to make it all better because I'm the mommy. And I can't make it better. There is no kind of “better” apart from the reality getting washed away and being replaced with the time before the terrible, how-this-really-happening reality. Or, if the old life can't be restored, how about a new, better-than-imaginable reality. I have come to realize that much of my theology on suffering didn't need a theos. Suffering was just to be avoided. And God's job was to remove the pain when it slipped through the cracks.

As I look at this scripture, I realize that these words in Isaiah are an encouragement those whose spirits are crushed and who have lost all courage. The restoration and revival are directed at a specific kind of person.

I restore the humble

You'd think that an oppressive situation would be enough to make one humble, but it doesn't. Not always. For me, humble circumstances expose my pride. It brings out the part of me that thinks I am too good for this or shouldn't be treated that way. It causes me to mull over all the right ways I lived and deserve to be cashing in on a pass from difficulty. I don't think I'm a proud person, but humble circumstances make the pride in me shout. And I pout and stamp. (Like a toddler flailing on the floor.) And I wonder where God is in all of this.

It takes time, but once I am pouted and stamped out, I am ready to pour out my heart. Oh, yes, I let all my angry, disappointed feelings to God out. The tears are hot. But there is a shift in my heart that submits to the “high and lofty one.” A shift that says, “I don't understand. This hurts. But you are God. I need you.” And then, it is amazing when it happens, there is a presence. The situation didn't change, but God's presence is real. In his presence, there is restoration. It will not happen before the pride shifts to humble.

I revive the courage of the repentant

What have I done that was that bad to deserve this? Those are words of a heart that evaluates sin from a human perspective. We look on the outside. We can only see the outside. Only God can take the heart and open it wide. If I think I am 100% right in a situation, I probably haven't allowed God to weigh in his thoughts. Apart from God, I am hopelessly lost when it comes to understanding his standard of holiness. I give myself great grades in my own ledger, but I know I am far from God's standard of holiness. If that is so, repentance is always on the table. Repent for what? God is one who needs to reveal. And being open to ask him is the first step towards repentance and towards revived courage.

This doesn't answer the question “Why?”

This is not about repenting and being humble so that life will magically get easier. There is no guarantee of that. A godly life does not promise an easy life. The “Why?” of your crushed spirit or loss of courage isn't answered in this passage either. Could it be because of sin in your life? Maybe. Could it be because God is deepening your faith for a future plan he has? Maybe. Could it be because…? Maybe. I don't know. What I do know is that God lives “with those whose spirits are contrite and humble.” In the crushed and heart-heavy days, I want his presence more than ever. Don't you?

What is your response to this passage?

Have you felt crushed? Have you needed courage? In what ways have you seen restoration and revival of courage? How has humility and repentance played a role in that?

 

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