One night, in complete despair, I flung open the Bible (a la Bible bingo, I suppose) and started reading and found this:
I didn't get any farther than verse 3.
When I got to the word despair I stopped dead in my tracks. I am no stranger to despair. No stranger at all. It seems to be my common mode of operation. So I backed up. Something about a garment of praise. Yeah, yeah. I hear that. You must praise God. You must thank him. You must, must rejoice. I could hear their words. Their commands. You must. You MUST. You must DO this.
But that isn't what it said. I backed up further. To bestow. This is talking about Jesus, the Messiah. He is the one doing this. What is he doing? He will comfort all who mourn. He will bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes. He will bestow on them the oil of joy instead of mourning. And he, HE will bestow on them a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.
This is something HE will do.
What I found in Isaiah wasn't an army general commanding me to discipline myself, get with the program, and pull myself out of the pit with my own bootstraps. I found a God of good news. And compassion. And strength. I found a God who knows that the pit is deep, the gravity is strong, and my bootstraps are broken. I found a God who knows I cannot perform my way out of despair on my own. So he provides. He provides healing and freedom and vengeance and beauty and joy and praise.
He is, after all, exactly who I need him to be.