Isaiah 61:2b-3 “He has sent me…to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion–to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor.”
For almost as long as people have been wearing clothes, they have been using them to say something about how they are feeling. If you are “putting on your dancing shoes,” you aren’t going to a funeral. You are going to celebrate and have fun. If your fashion style is “goth,” you aren’t generally bright and cheery. Words like “dark,” “morbid,” maybe even “depressed” might better describe the mood.
Jesus’ good news has the power to adjust our attitude, “to comfort those who mourn.” His message not only addresses our sadness. It not only invites us to feel better. It replaces our negativity and pessimism. He dresses us in the clothing of joy and optimism, a “crown of beauty,” “the oil of gladness,” and “a garment of praise.” This is the native costume, the natural wardrobe, for people who believe the gospel.
Sometimes our surroundings make us forget. We look at the condition of our economy, or the environment, or the state of politics, or the decline of good morals, or our own sin and weakness, and we lose hope. We get depressed.
The good news Jesus brings makes no promises about economy, environment, or politics. It may well be that they are all headed for catastrophe. Our world may remain a moral cesspool, and we may still struggle with sin.
But none of that changes God’s love for us. “Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future nor any powers, neither height nor depth nor anything else in all creation can separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” That’s his promise. This world may be messed up. The one to come isn’t even slightly affected by it all. Because of the gospel, you can wear your happy tie and party pants every day.