hope spiritual

Turning Point

12:45 PMHeather

Have you ever watched one of those news stories about someone in tough circumstances who is finding the strength to not only keep fighting, but to also give back? The ones who draw from their tragedy to turn it to something bigger and greater and grander. Like the parents of the teenage girl who died in a skiing accident and have now started a foundation for organ donation. Or the family of the little girl named Amber who was kidnapped and killed. They started a grass roots effort here in Texas, and thus we now have the Amber Alert system to help identify and recover children who are abducted.

These are people in horrible circumstances who nevertheless, persevered.

Nevertheless. Nonetheless. Notwithstanding. However. In spite of that.

Nevertheless. It's the launching pad, the catalyst, the turning point where what has been endured becomes what will now be pursued.


I read slowly through Isaiah 8 last week. In that chapter, Isaiah is instructed by God to write down and forewarn the Israelites about what is coming because of their disobedience. Isaiah is told to let the people of God know that they should fear God. They should brace themselves. "Because this people has rejected [God], the Lord is about to bring against them mighty flood waters" (Isaiah 8:7). The 8th chapter wraps up with phrases like no light of dawn, distressed, hungry, famished, curses, darkness, fearful gloom...and "utter darkness."

A people depraved. A people doomed to the consequences for their disobedience. A people desperate and hurting and suffering. 

And then the glorious word that opens chapter 9. The one word that expresses the pivot point for all of mankind, for all of human history.

Nevertheless.

It's the nevertheless that changes everything. It's the hope. The impossible hope of the gospel that is being revealed. It's the proclamation of freedom and grace and hope for all. It's the promise that brings hope for all the lowly. 

NEVERTHELESS, there will be no more gloom for those who were in distress. In the past he humbled the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the future he will honor Galilee of the Gentiles, by the way of the sea, along the Jordan.
Isaiah 9:1

Mankind has, up until that point in history, continually repeated a vicious cycle of following God, obeying his laws, losing his way from God, experiencing discipline for disobedience, and then returning to God and his word.

Mankind has unsuccessfully attempted to find redemption through his efforts and works. Running hard for God. Then stumbling and falling. Then picking himself back up.

Doomed. Distressed. Darkness and gloom.

And here, in that one climactic word that opens Isaiah 9:1, God says NEVERTHELESS.

He boldly declares a new thing. He proclaims loudly through his prophet that there will be a new way. A new hope. A fresh start. A way to take that will lead to a freedom never experienced. A turning point.

When the gloom of this life runs smack dab into God's nevertheless.

God says NEVERTHELESS:
*no matter the circumstances
*no matter how it's always been
*no matter the consequences of our sin
*no matter the discipline or punishment we've endured
*no matter our darkness
*no matter the curses we feel that we are under or the ones we utter
*no matter the depth of despair
*no matter the fear
*no matter the hopelessness

God shouts: THERE WILL BE NO MORE GLOOM FOR THOSE WHO WERE IN DISTRESS.

God proclaimed it to Isaiah thousands of years ago, and God speaks it over you, wherever you are, in whatever trials you face.

He says nevertheless.

He says there is a turning point. All is changing. What has been will be turned into what can be. What has NEVER happened before is coming. 

Hope like we've never experienced. A work of God that changes everything. His light will flood in. His favor will pour out like never before. New blessings and new works will be experienced. He is the God of the NEW things that we can't imagine. Our prison doors will be opened. Our chains will be smashed.

God declared to Isaiah what is still true today. HIS flowchart for humanity.

You have the history of mankind. God breaks through with his new works. His nevertheless. And the downward spiral is turned completely around. Because he takes what has been and steps in to do something new. He takes the hard roads we've walked and makes them paths of redemption that are used in our lives and in the lives of others. 

As the Advent season comes, may we dwell long and hard on the nevertheless that changed the course of history for all of mankind. 

May we be freshly in awe of the inexplicable turning point referenced in Isaiah 9:1. When God stepped in to enter our broken world because all of our best efforts are futile.

In the life of every person-- have you reached your nevertheless? Have you embraced it, with all of it's possibility? Have you been changed by it? Do you see the full significance of the birth announcement given to Isaiah, which started in chapter 9, verse 1?

Here's what this announcement means.

___________________ (Fill in this blank with all of your trials/struggles/strongholds) + NEVERTHELESS = no more gloom, no more distress, ultimate breakthroughs, everything changes

Because of Jesus. 

Because when you add the hope of Jesus come to earth, you see that all that we endure here on this earth fades into nothing because of the everlasting hope of Jesus.

Because of Isaiah 9:1, we know that the lowly, unimportant, forgotten and downcast can meet the nevertheless and become the dearly loved children of God through the blood shed at Calvary.  

Ask God to help you walk through the nevertheless. Ask him to help you filter all that you are enduring or struggling with through the lens of the nevertheless of our Savior who came for us.

Take a minute to read Isaiah 9:2-5 in your Bible or in a Bible app. Read through the riches of these promises. Here is what they tell us.

Verse 2:
--Jesus is light in the darkness.
--Jesus is dawn in the shadow of death

Verse 3:
--Jesus enlarges the land
--Jesus increases joy
--Jesus is cause for rejoicing

Verse 4:
--Jesus defeats our enemies
--Jesus shatters the yokes that burden us
--Jesus shatter bars on our shoulders
--Jesus breaks the rod of what oppresses us

Verse 5:
--Jesus brings an end to the need to battle
--Jesus causes combat boots to be burned
--Jesus causes bloodied uniforms to be burned
--Jesus is the victory

You see, through our fallen world, because of the choice of man to exercise free will and walk away from God's commands, we were doomed. We walked in gloom. There was darkness. We tried and tried and tried to obey and offer sacrifices and earn our way back to the fellowship enjoyed in the garden, when man walked and talked with God.

To no avail.

But GOD spoke the NEVERTHELESS... and his name is JESUS...
and so:

walking in darkness
living in the shadow of death
constrained boundaries
little land to enjoy
little joy to experience
no rejoicing
being defeated by the enemy
being under the burden of yokes
walking with a bar across our shoulders
being under the rod of the oppressors
needing boots for battle
wearing bloodied war uniforms

Because of the nevertheless of Jesus, all these things are vanquished. They are all wiped away. They are obsolete. Because he came. He died. He rose again. He was victorious over death. He crushed the serpent's head. And he is coming back to build a new heaven and a new earth.

Lord, help us all to SEE the depths of this nevertheless. Help us all to see all that Jesus means and all that he does. Help us to see ALL of him--the complete fullness of his significance.

Help us to know that we do not have to walk in darkness. Help us to know that we do not have to live in the shadow of death. 

Help us to know that we do not have to live within constrained boundaries and constrained territories. We are, in fact, called to go out in the world and proclaim this "Nevertheless" as the hope of the world. 

Help us to know that we do not have to live with little joy because you are the Joy of the world. Help us to know we do not have to live with little rejoicing. 

Help us to know that we are not defeated by our enemies. Though we may lose battles, your Nevertheless has won the war. 

Help us to know that we are not under the yoke that burdens us. Help us to not live under the bar on our shoulders, but to cast our cares on you. Help us to not live under the rod of the oppressors. 

Help us to see we have no need for combat boots because the war has been won and you have traded our boots and have instead readied our feet with the gospel of peace. 

Help us to know that we have no need to wear bloodied combat clothing, because Jesus shed his blood on the cross while soldiers cast lots for his garments. 

Lord, help us know that none of these things have power to constrain us anymore, unless we choose to ignore...

...the Nevertheless of Jesus. 

That Nevertheless changed everything. 

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