Scripture text for Monday, March 8th, 2010: Isaiah 51:1-53:12
In Half the Sky, Nicholas Kristoff & Sheryl Wudunn report the story of an Ethiopian woman who, at the age of 13, is sold to a 60 yr old man who repeatedly abuses & rapes her. When she is 7 months pregnant, she manages to escape to her home village, only to find that her family has left, and no one will help her. She goes to the river to end her life, when an uncle finds and takes her in. During childbirth, she suffers injuries that leave her unable walk or have control over her urine or bowels. The villagers decide that she is cursed by God, and although her uncle provides her with food and water, she is put in a hut on the outskirts of the village, the doors are removed, and she’s left for the hyenas. All night, she fights them off with sticks. In the morning, she crawls to a neighboring village where she remembers having once seen a missionary. He cares for her, and brings her to a hospital, where she receives treatment.
When I read the woman’s story, I cannot imagine the despair and abandonment she experienced. I alternate between tears and anger. Yet, in a small way, her story helps me to connect with the suffering of Christ. Isaiah reads, “His appearance was so disfigured…Beyond that of any human being…He was despised and rejected by others…We considered him punished by God…” I imagine the Ethiopian woman grasps his story in ways I merely touch on.
52:13 – 53:5 – Meditate on the suffering of Christ. Allow your heart to connect with this passage. Consider your own experiences of rejection and suffering. What stands out to you about Christ here? Focus on one or two words in vs. 52:13-53:5. Pray that God would lead you into a deeper understanding of who He is.
53:5-6 – Confess. Christ suffered because people turned from God and lived their own ways. Without fear, consider the past few days and list some of the ways you have turned from God and chosen to follow your own desires, instead of His.
53:10-12 & 51 & 52 – Celebrate! It was God’s plan that humanity would not be separated from Him forever, that Christ would bear our sin and punishment, ushering in a new kingdom. Take a few minutes to worship the exalted Christ through whom everything you listed above is forgiven! Re-read 51 & 52, celebrating the awesome promises of God!
Devotion prepared by Emily Umulis