This  passage in Isaiah was quoted by Jesus early in His ministry as referring to Himself (Luke 4: 18-19).  He has come to preach and ‘to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor’.  With a new year upon us, wouldn’t it be great if we could know that this year will be the ‘Year of the Lord’s Favor’?  Assured of that would make facing whatever challenges may come our way that much easier to handle.  Wouldn’t it?

I think what scares lots of us is the uncertainty that something horrible may happen, and that we can’t find the strength to endure it, to stand up under the pressure without breaking.

I suffer from anxiety episodes once in a while.  It feels like claustrophobia sets in and I want to break out, to flee the fear that can be overwhelming.  To escape.    Some favor(!) to have panic attacks…and very embarrassing.  After all,  shouldn’t a pastor have more faith?  Shouldn’t I rise above such mental ailments?  You call yourself a man of God, but you sure have feet of clay.  That’s right–I do.

Sorry to disappoint anyone, but let me tell you what helps– to admit it,  owning up to being less than perfect. They say confession is good for the soul–it is for me.  Being honest and up-front, no hiding behind a false image.

Something else that helps, and here’s a bit of the Lord’s favor in my case, is that I have compassion for other’s who go through difficulties accompanied by frightening fears.  I’m more patient.  More caring.  They may not suffer with what I have, but the ‘Favor of the Lord’ is to make me more loving when normally I might write someone off as less than spiritual with too little faith, way too much fear.   Walk on the other side of the street.    Look the other way.

No, the hurts in my life have made me a more tender person.  I can feel it.   It’s the ‘Favor of the Lord’ to make us more useful in His hands.  More caring than we’d normally be.  More like Jesus who speaks encouraging words to the poor,  works freedom for all kinds of prisoners, restores sight and discernment to blinded people,  and releases whatever oppresses and ties us up ( Luke 4:18-19).  In other words, ‘the Year of the Lord’s Favor’!

Hold onto Him.  Lean on the everlasting arms.  Cling to the One who overcame even death on a cross, and rose to new life…as we will by faith in Him alone.  Happy New Year!  ‘The Year of the Favor of the Lord’!

Prayer:  Dear Lord, thank you for all your blessings in our lives.  In Jesus’ name.   Amen.

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