The Lord is wonderful. Oh my goodness, He is so wonderful. I have been attending AA meetings. I am an alcoholic and attended one or two meetings when I quit drinking. I didn’t care for them, so I never went back. I have been sober for decades and have never needed to go to meetings, but I recently started because a family member is battling alcoholism.
It just so happens that everyone who attends the group I now attend is a follower of Christ. These dear people are among the choicest on earth. They are broken but not destroyed; they are embattled but not defeated; others regard them as weak, but they trust in the grace of God through which power is perfected in weakness. These dear ones are judged as outcasts, yet they fit perfectly in the hand of God.
Isaiah said of Jesus in chapter 61:1-3,
1 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;
2 To proclaim the favorable year of the LORD and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn,
3 To grant those who mourn in Zion, giving them a garland instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the mantle of praise instead of a spirit of fainting. So they will be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified.
Afflicted, brokenhearted, captives, and prisoners describe addicts to a tee. They are afflicted by a disease they did not ask for. They are brokenhearted because the disease affects their lives and the lives of their families. They are captives of their condition and, thus, prisoners within their own minds.
All who attend the meetings I attend have placed themselves in God’s hands, trusting in His Son, whom Isaiah foretold would come for them. The Son of God Himself meets with them, for this group gathers in His name. As they battle a common foe, encouraging and uplifting one another, He lovingly leads them down a path strewn with delicacies and treasures that enrich their souls and encourage their minds, delicacies and treasures reserved for those who search for and accept the truth.
He has given them a garland to replace the ashes of their past sins and the oil of gladness to soothe the mourning of those sins. He has given them a mantle of praise to prevent them from fainting as they tread forward daily, praising the One who sustains them. As a result, these outcasts of society are growing into oaks of righteousness, having been planted by the Lord, and He is being glorified by their honesty within their own hearts, and with each other, and by their compassion and love for one another.
I am truly honored to be a part of this group of outcasts who walk with Jesus outside the camp, bearing His reproach. May God continue to bless these oaks of righteousness He has planted. May they continue to display their garlands, their oil of gladness, and their mantles of praise, and may God continue to be glorified in them. Amen.
Jon David Banks, God’s most unworthy servant
Scripture quotations taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved. www.lockman.org.