“He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground. He had no beauty of majesty to attract us to him nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by others a man of suffering, and familiar with pain…he poured his life unto death…for he bore the sin of many and made intercession for the transgressors” Isaiah 53:2-3, 12
It has always amazed me to see life take root in dry ground. Just when you think that everything is forsaken beauty comes from the ashes. Praise is sung when joy comes in the mourning “for the soil makes the sprout come up and a garden causes the garden to grow, so the sovereign Lord will make righteousness and praise spring up before all nations.” (Isaiah 63:11)
What do you do when you feel like you have been cast on dry ground? When the world is falling out from under you will you still be found standing? Will you find a drop of water in the desert?
I went to prison today. Think Prison Break Guantanamo Bay times 10. Men, Woman, and youth all brought here for various reasons. The depravity of the place hits you first and then the competition starts as the majority of the prisoners strive to make eye contact with you. At the same time you have to veil your eyes because you want to restore some dignity in their nakedness. The clothing is threadbare and the smell is beyond illustration. Those who can afford it create castles in their “rooms” that are separated from the reality of their imprisonment. behind these walls, it seems like the outside world is lost to you. Corruption flourishes here while poverty follows the inmate to this place. If you were striving to survive outside imagine what it looks like on this side of the gate. Abandoned, burdened with guilt and struggling with your own self worth. How does God’s mercy triumph over this judgement?
When I came home, I posted a vague status on Facebook “Spent the morning in Prison.” Literally within seconds, i received multiple private messages of concern. Some people were willing to find the next flight, others were offering connections to lawyers who deal with international affairs while others were just genuinely concerned. I was comforted to know that there were people who would do what they could to challenge this system. There were people who would intercede on my behalf with prayers and petitions. For these prisoners however, many of their stories are the same they don’t have the means or the resources to defend themselves. Mother’s won’t acknowledge where there child is and they will tell those who care enough to ask ” oh, he’s traveling, you wont see him for sometime.” Of the prisoners we were able to talk to, there were a couple of them who have spent 8 or more years here and they were still waiting for a trial.
Life still takes root here. “He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him” yet even in this place he still exists. In their confinement the prisoners wrestle with the reality of who He is and the concept of his unfailing love and constant grace.
“Christ bore the sin of many and made intercession for the transgressions.” He above all understands the pain and suffering of each individual prisoner. He knows them by name and knows every struggle, injustice and chain that binds them. Only He can release them from the confines of their physical , spiritual and mental imprisonment. Their guilt is heavy, but God’s love is heavier. Their temptations are many but God’s grace is sufficient for them. The burdens of their circumstances are constant but so is the display of his splendor. For many this place becomes one where “Glory meets suffering. when grace is ushered in for good and the scars are understood.When mercy takes its rightful place. Humanity is overcome by Majesty and his glory is found even here.” (The Hurt and the Healer : Mercy Me)
Hope takes root even in those moments that wallowing seems like the better option. When they want God to leave them alone but instead they find themselves in the arms of a great God whose love draws them in. Deep calls out to deep and their need for healing is found in an unlikely place. The great light of the world fills the place with grace. Flowers are seen in the weeds and Even in darkness their is light.