Read Isaiah 53:1-12; Matthew 8:16-17; 1 Peter 2:24-25; Galatians 3:13
On several occasions, I have enjoyed Sheila Walsh's teaching. Her stories detailing her struggle with depression and the precious things the Lord has taught her have enlightened me. Her warmth and humor are truly gifts to her listeners, reminders of the Lord's grace and goodness in her life. Since these things are true, I was happy to listen to another of her messages this week, and what a story she told, and I would like to share an encapsulated version of it here.
Sheila Walsh married her husband Barry when she was in her 30s, and she was 39 years old when the couple joyfully learned that she was pregnant. All was progressing well until the day, when Sheila was three months into her pregnancy, when the doctor called. She was told that the baby she was carrying was "incompatible with life". She had no idea what that meant and was crushed when she was told that there was no possibility that her longed-for child could live outside her womb. The doctor suggested that an abortion be performed right away. Sheila responded with a resounding no. Sheila recounted how she would wake up at night and cry out to the Lord. With tears, she would tell Him that she trusted His goodness and sovereignty, the truths that she had comforted others with through her messages for many years. She knew The Lord would not withhold anything good, Psalm 34:10; however, she also knew that it was He Who defined what was good in each particular case.
The pregnancy progressed through the weeks, and Sheila went in for periodic monitoring. Then, in the 37Th week, the doctor called again. There was something else that she needed to know. On the day she was first tested, another woman about 40 years old had also received a test. The results of those tests had been put into the wrong charts. The Walsh's baby had always been fine, and another lady's precious one was the one with the awful prognosis. Sheila was joyful but also sad. Someone she didn't know would be receiving unbelievably painful news.
It was one short statement that Sheila said that touched my heart. She wondered if God had used her to bear the other woman's pain for all of those months. She and her husband had lived with that grief and uncertainty, carrying that pain week after difficult week. What a tender way to look at what they had walked through. They didn't choose to bear that heavy burden, but her words reminded me that there is One Who loves us, Who did willingly take upon Himself the most all-encompassing and odious burden that could ever be borne. Jesus Christ the Lord did that for us!
Isaiah 53:1-12 is an amazing picture of the Savior's love, what He endured to rescue us and how He carried both our griefs and our sins. He actually became accursed for us, Galatians 3:13, bearing the curse and God's wrath for us so we could receive God's righteousness, 2 Corinthians 5:21. It was verses out of Isaiah 53 that Philip explained to the Ethiopian eunuch when the Holy Spirit sent him on a one-on-one mission, Acts 8:26-40. There on that desert road, a seeking man was reading about Someone Who had or would suffer, but he didn't know who it was. So, beginning in that place in the text, Philip introduced the eunuch to the One Who not only was battered, broken and humiliated for us but also bore the entire burden of our sin, Romans 4:25.Why would Jesus willingly do such a thing as this? It was because of the joy that awaited Him that He endured the shame, Hebrews 12:2 and the love He has for us, John 3:16. That is why he left heaven, becoming poor that we might become rich 2 Corinthians 8:9.
There is another beautiful truth about the One Who bore our burdens. He now sits in the place of exaltation, Philippians 2:9-11. He will come back to establish a kingdom free from every burden He has borne. A place in which there will be nothing that will take away from our rejoicing, Isaiah 35:1-10. Although the Lord willingly did all this for us and He freely holds it out to us, there is something we must do, and in John 6:28-29, Jesus tells us what it is. We must believe that Jesus completed the work of carrying our sin debt and that we can add nothing to His finished work, John 19:30. We must give Him the whole of the debt that we cannot ever pay.
Lord, Thank You for carrying our burden sin, shame, guilt and grief. In Matthew 8:16-17, You showed us a glimpse of the world to come, one where all sickness will also be banished. Show us how to tell others about Your love.