He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion—to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor. | Isaiah 61:1-3
In this season, the enemy has sought to bring down many with discouragement, despair, weariness, and hope deferred. He has sought to deceive you, trying to convince you to come into alignment with his lie that breakthrough will not happen in your life. Yet take heart, for the exact opposite is true! Even in what feels like chaos, I hear the Lord saying, “Put on a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.” It may feel as though there has been an increase in the warfare that you have been experiencing, but the Lord is exposing the enemy’s plan. Breakthrough is happening now, and it will soon manifest in your life.
I recently saw a picture in my mind of many in the body of Christ, bent over by the weight of heavy chains (a symbol of burdens) wrapped around them. When they tried to take a step forward, the enemy would throw yet another chain around them, and they staggered under the added weight. Shortly after I saw that picture, I was reminded of a fascinating story that I had once heard:
As my friend was passing the elephants, he suddenly stopped, confused by the fact that these huge creatures were being held by only a small rope tied to their front leg. No chains, no cages. It was obvious that the elephants could, at anytime, break away from the ropes they were tied to but for some reason, they did not. My friend saw a trainer nearby and asked why these beautiful, magnificent animals just stood there and made no attempt to get away.
“Well,” he said, “when they are very young and much smaller we use the same size of rope to tie them and, at that age, it’s enough to hold them. As they grow up, they are conditioned to believe they cannot break away. They believe the rope can still hold them, so they never try to break free.” My friend was amazed. These animals could at any time break free from their bonds but because they believed they couldn’t, they were stuck right where they were.
– Author unknown
I believe that the Lord is using this story as an analogy for the body of Christ in this hour. I hear Him saying, “I have given you strength like the elephants. The chains that the enemy has sought to entangle you with can easily be tossed off. The enemy has no real power to keep you bound, as he is just grasping to keep you in alignment with his lies. As My people open their mouths and give Me the sacrifice of their worship, truly the grave clothes and shackles will fall off of them; they will be adorned with new, beautiful garments of praise.”
It may feel as though your joy has been attacked in this last season. The enemy knows that the joy of the Lord is our strength, and he has been doing everything in his power to try and take that away from you. However, I sense that the Lord is releasing the fresh oil of His everlasting joy in this hour. The Lord is washing away the pain of the previous seasons, restoring and redeeming the times that the locust have eaten (Joel 2:25). As you give the Lord the sacrifice of your praise, rivers of living water will flow through those parched places of your life, bringing new healing and refreshing that will cleanse and renew your spirit.
Lastly, I hear the Lord saying today, “Reinforcement is coming; help is on the way.” I believe that the Lord would say, “My favor is going to be released and extended to help you for your next step. Be encouraged! I am lining things up, bringing the provision and assistance that you need to fulfill the call that I have placed on your life. The puzzle pieces are coming together, and I am going to divinely order the next steps that you need to take.”
Continue to posture your heart in a place of humility and trust, and lean not on your own understanding (Proverbs 3:5). Let His joy and His strength rise up in you, for the Lord is going to make your crooked places straight, and do for you what only He can do. Enter into the Lord’s rest today, and continue to put on the garment of praise.
“… Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit” (Zechariah 4:6).