Sunday, September 5, 2021

PALMER'S DISEASE? I'M GOOD WITH THAT - Isaiah 61 Devotional #8

 
"... To comfort all who mourn, To console those who mourn in Zion ..."
– Isaiah 61:2c-3a
 
"Why should I believe that life up there in your world is any better than life down here on Goliath?" said McKenzie, "... You know, I can't help feeling that if a spaceship were to land upon Earth from another planet and aliens said to the people, 'We have come to rescue you,' the answer might be, 'Rescue us? From what?'"

Now, if that isn't a novel thought...!  

But, in case you don't recognize the memorable quote, it's from the B movie "Goliath Awaits" (Columbia Pictures Television, 1981).  The fiction flick is about the Goliath, an ocean liner much longer than the Titanic, sunk by Nazi torpedoes in 1939 and discovered by divers 40 years later with ... more than 300 survivors still aboard!  

But when the rescue expedition arrives, as described in the original movie blurb: "The big problem is not bringing them to the surface ... but convincing their leader to let them go!"  See, living in the crumbling hulk of a ship, where life support systems were failing and people were dying of "Palmer's disease" (a mysterious malady that dispatched its victims -- usually the elderly, the weak, or the injured -- within minutes) was an okay existence for some ... such as their magalomaniac "leader" Paul McKenzie, the henchmen who helped create and maintain his "special world," and some of the younger generation who knew no other reality.

In the face of violent opposition and sabotage, the protagonists were able to isolate those who lamented their ghastly estate and set them free.  (It's actually well worth the watch! Hint: YouTube.)

Continuing our Isaiah 61 adventure, we come to the part of our Savior's job description where He "comforts all who mourn."  In fact, not only does He promise to comfort these mourners, but He actually seems to commend them: "Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted." (Matthew 5:4)

But why, "blessed"?  On the contrary, when I think of "one who mourns," I picture a moody, self-pitiful, peevish little boy whose uncle "comforts" him by tossing a nickel, saying, "Go buy yourself a pack of gum and get out of my hair!"  Sort of a backhanded blessing, right?

But the Isaiah 61 "those who mourn" crowd aren't doleful little people.  Rather, they are profoundly grieved by all that is unjust, tragic, and deplorable.  Think of the prophet Jeremiah's lamentations ... in the book by that name.  Think of creation itself that "groans and travails" (Romans 8:22) because of the sinful state of this world.  Think of someone you know who is so appalled by injustice, crushed by oppression, or doubled over in empathy for another's pain as to say, "I can't take this anymore!"

NOW you've found the "blessed mourner" that Jesus came to comfort!  Not the old Paul McKenzie in love with his "special world" of sin because, though it's crashing down around his ears, at least he's still at the center of it.  Not the woke young person parroting "tolerance, diversity, and peace" while watching friends, family, and society spinning down the toilet.

Jesus said, "I did not come to call the [self-proclaimed] righteous [who see no need to repent], but sinners to repentance...." (Luke 5:32, Amplified)  

As we continue Jesus' work on Earth -- "Just as the Father has sent Me, I also send you." (John 20:21b, NASB) -- let's be on the lookout for those Blessed Mourners.

Why not pray ...  

"Dear Father, help me go through life with my eyes open. Help me recognize the souls that Your Holy Spirit has softened up to where they're crying out, 'I can't take it anymore!' And then, with the holy boldness I get from a whispered prayer [see Nehemiah 2], help me open not only my heart, but also my mouth, to say, 'I'm going to pray for you because I can attest to the fact that God cares, He listens, and He can both comfort AND rescue you!'
In Jesus' name. Amen"

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Originally published as a “Bradstix” devotional on the National Minute of Prayer Facebook page 9/5/2021.

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