Christmas can be difficult for many people. Loss, loneliness, financial pressure, family division, and other stresses seem to magnify at a time when we are supposed to be celebrating a season of hope, joy, and peace. When the holidays start to feel like bad news, that’s exactly when we need to hear the Good News of the Gospel.
The prophet Isaiah foretold of the coming of Christ when he said:
“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me,
Because the Lord has anointed me
To bring good news to the afflicted;
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to captives
And freedom to prisoners.” (Isaiah 61:1)
Jesus echoed this passage as He taught in the synagogue in Nazareth:
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me,
Because He anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor.
He has sent Me to proclaim release to the captives,
And recovery of sight to the blind,
To set free those who are oppressed,
To proclaim the favorable year of the Lord.” (Luke 4:18-19)
Could you use a “favorable year”? Then let Him be your deliverer. Let Him bind up your broken heart, restore your sight, set you free from oppression, and give you liberty.
I know, this is easy to say, but harder to do. So allow me to share a key step to deliverance as illustrated with God’s chosen people in the Old Testament when they were living in slavery. After Moses fled his adopted palace for killing an Egyptian who was beating an Israelite slave, he carved out a home in the Midian desert where he married, had a son, and tended to his father-in-law’s flocks. Meanwhile, back in Egypt the Israelites continued to suffer. God appeared to Moses and said, “I have surely seen the affliction of My people who are in Egypt, and have given heed to their cry because of their taskmasters, for I am aware of their sufferings” (Exodus 3:7).
This is the first truth you need to know about your suffering: God sees it. He is aware. “Are not five sparrows sold for two cents?” Jesus asked. “Yet not one of them is forgotten before God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows” (Luke 12:6-7). Suffering can bring a sense of isolation, but you are not forgotten.
So God called Moses to deliver His people out of bondage. He said, “I have come down to deliver them from the power of the Egyptians, and to bring them up from that land to a good and spacious land, to a land flowing with milk and honey” (Exodus 3:8). That’s the second truth you must understand: He wants to deliver you. And not just from one bad situation to a lesser one, but to a place of fulfillment and fruitfulness. We are not supposed to live in bondage. Paul wrote, “It was for freedom that Christ set us free” (Galatians 5:1). If you have been convinced that freedom is unattainable, you have bought into a lie. When you give yourself willingly as a servant of God, He does not want you under the command of anything else. God doesn’t share His slaves. And those who come as slaves, He raises up as sons and daughters, making us heirs in His kingdom (Galatians 4:7). You are meant to be free.
Our deliverance is usually beyond our capability. Sometimes, our problems are our own fault. If we think we can deliver ourselves, we’re doomed to fail. We have to say “deliver us from evil,” as Jesus instructed us to pray, because our deliverance is beyond our grasp (Matthew 6:13). Our hope lies in the fact that it is never beyond God’s. In our weakness, He is strong.
Moses went to Pharaoh and demanded the release of the Israelites. Of course, Pharaoh refused. God unleashed a series of plagues on the Egyptians, forcing that mighty empire to beg the Israelites to leave. Their attitude turned around so completely that they showered the Israelites with gifts as God’s people left. That godless culture was defeated and God’s people walked away from their lives of slavery. And that’s the first step you and I must take to obtain the promise of deliverance.
How many times do we stay stuck in bondage simply because we don’t walk away? Granted, there are things we can’t escape that easily. If you’re battling health issues, it’s not so simple. (Unless your problems are self-induced by a poor diet or lack of exercise.) But many of our prisons have open doors if we’ll just choose to leave. With God’s power, we can walk away from anger, bitterness, unforgiveness, strife, jealousy, and so many other shackles. We can leave bad habits behind by staying away from places that draw us in, cutting off avenues of temptation and sin, and removing ourselves from situations that do nothing but keep us bound. If you’re waiting for deliverance, take a good hard look at whether or not you need to simply walk away from your Egypt. You may not know exactly where you are going, but if you can get out, just leave that which enslaves you behind.
After Jesus read Isaiah’s promise of deliverance in the synagogue, He closed the book and told the crowd, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing” (Luke 4:21). Today can be the fulfillment of that promise in your life. Walk away from your captors. Leave the chains behind. Set your eyes on Christ our Deliverer and keep walking until your freedom is complete.
Adapted from the upcoming book The Age of Promise by James Randall Robison. Copyright ©2017 by James Randall Robison. Used by permission.