Punishment and Peace

Isaiah 53:5 “But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.” (NIV)

In this brief passage from Isaiah 53 in what is known as the Messianic Prophecy, several words, descriptive words jump off the page.  First, it says He, meaning Jesus, was pierced.  As Webster defines, to pierce means, “to run into or through as a pointed weapon does; to make a hole through.”  Let that sink in for a moment.  Often, we read this passage as we have hundreds of times and blow right past some of these words.  It’s easy to do.

As silly as it sounds, when I hear the word “pierce” my mind immediately recalls the day I took my oldest daughter to get her ears pierced.  She was a little nervous so I promised I would get another piercing in my ears, and we would do it together.  It was a successful day for both of us and I wore that second set of earrings proudly knowing I had supported her that day in more than just an emotional way.  By choosing to have my ears pierced again, I was bonding with her in the physical experience of pain as well.  One thing is for sure, those holes have never closed either!  They are a reminder to me of a special moment shared together. 

Jesus was pierced in the most violent and vicious way for you and me.  Likewise, His piercings did not dissipate as seen in John 20:27 when Jesus appears in the upper room to His disciples speaking directly to Thomas, “‘Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Stop doubting and believe.’”  Remember, he is the one forever memorialized as a doubter!  The nail-scared hands and feet of Jesus bear witness to the ultimate bonding of physical pain that we did not have to endure.  They are a reminder of a moment we shared with Him because we were His only thought as He hung on the cross. 

Back to Webster’s to learn more about the word crush, “to squeeze or force by pressure so as to alter or destroy structure; to subdue completely.”  The last part of this definition gives me great pause. When God created the world, including Adam and Eve, He gave them some initial instruction in Genesis 1:28, “God blessed them and said to them ‘Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”  They were given the freedom in the Garden of Eden to rule completely over God’s creation.  It was a position of authority and power given to them by the Creator himself.  Jesus allowed Himself to be crushed or subdued.  All glory and splendor were minimalized in a single moment on a cross where our sin became the sweat of His brow.  He had all authority from the Father and could have escaped at any time, yet He made a choice.  Not only that, but He refused to subdue the actions and will of those around Him.  The crushing of the cross is a reminder of a moment we shared with Him because we were His only thought as He hung on the cross. 

Finally, the last phrase in this passage that arrests my attention is, “the punishment that brought us peace was upon him. . .”  There is a definite difference between punishment and discipline.  I remember my mother explaining this difference.  When I was disciplined, she would remind me that I was not being punished because punishment was without love.  Rather, discipline was full of love.  As a child, I recall it didn’t feel very loving.  As an adult, I recognize this difference.  To separate me from my parents, sister, or friends through “grounding” me for a time was the absolute worse type of discipline for me.  To be cut off and isolated from the laughter happening in the next room was pure torture!  When my sentence was complete and I could again join the rest of the family, no one acted as if I had been absent.  I was included in whatever was taking place as if nothing had happened.  No one mentioned my offense any further and I would be at peace with my family once again. 

What Jesus endured was unloving punishment for a guiltless crime.  There was no love in the whip that shredded His back.  The taunts from the crowd to “crucify him” were void of care or concern.  The soldiers beat him with closed fists full of hatred and disdain.   Isaiah prophesies in verse 3, “. . . he was despised, and we esteemed him not.”  Jesus was punished by the people He came to save.  The punishment Jesus endured is a reminder of a moment we shared with Him because we were His only thought as He hung on the cross. 

It is ironic how being pierced, crushed, and punished can equal peace. More than that they offer us healing in the deepest places of our souls.  Jesus shares many things with His followers, but this journey was never part of the plan.  The cross is the ultimate moment where we should have shared His physical suffering and yet, we find ourselves shielded instead. 


Some of my favorite pieces of advice are. . .

Life is hard!

Move on.

Get over it.

Nothing lasts forever.

Why?  Because life is just hard!!!

Obviously, I am being sarcastic (insert eye roll).  I truly don’t like these nuggets of negativity.  However, from time to time I am guilty of launching them myself.  Mostly, it’s because I really don’t know what to say to someone who is struggling.  Generally, they aren’t asking me for anything more than a listening ear, but I still feel compelled to respond with some type of “encouragement.”  Turns out, these phrases are not encouraging.

Life is hard.  Well, duh!  Thanks for that tidbit!  I fully realize that life is indeed hard and I’m fed up with it at the moment.  I honestly want to move on, but I am not sure how.  Getting over it is taking forever and it sure feels as if it will last forever! 

Who’s with me?  Show of hands, please! 

These phrases are usually generated in response to an expressed hardship be it by someone else or perhaps our own.  Hardship is what’s being addressed here which comes at us in all shapes, sizes, and duration.  It’s an interesting word, hardship.  The teacher in me sees this compound word and wants to break it down. So, let’s do that.

Thanks to Webster, the word hardship as it pertains here means, “something that causes or entails suffering of privation.”  Again, the teacher now needs to look up privation, “the state of being deprived, especially: lack of what is needed for existence.”  My favorite definition that Webster provides is the kid’s definition, “something (as a loss or injury) that is hard to bear.” 

That last one is the most poignant.  Life and its hardships are hard to bear!  Paul says in Acts 20:23, “I only know that in every city the Holy Spirit warns me that prison and hardships are facing me.” (NIV) Two things strike me, first he knows what is ahead; hardships AND prison.  Second, the Holy Spirit warns him.  In order for there to be a warning, there has to be a witness!  The Holy Spirit was with Paul therefore, he knew exactly what was ahead because of the presence of the Holy Spirit.  Hardships are no match for the Spirit. 

It’s difficult to simply “move on”  when we are bearing or living out hardship.  We are reminded in 2 Corinthians 12:10 where Paul again writes,  “. . . for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties.  For when I am weak, then I am strong.”  That doesn’t sound like something I want to move past too quickly!  Ever notice how the Bible is full of opposites?  This is a prime example.  When we are weak, we can ride the wave of His strength up and over whatever hardship we are facing.  It’s the only way we can “move on.”

Maybe, what we need to “get over” isn’t the hardship itself, but rather who we think we are.  Our friend, Paul, continues in 2 Corinthians 6:1 exhorting the church in Corinth, “As God’s co-workers we urge you not to receive God’s grace in vain.”  Did you catch that phrase, co-workers?  Jumping down to verse 4, he continues, “Rather, as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distresses;”  The list continues, but the point here is we are God’s co-workers and His servants.  If we face hardship, it isn’t without  His knowledge or oversight.  When we come to know Jesus as our Lord and Savior, we are no longer our own, we are His servants and co-workers.  Hardship just comes in the job description.   

Listen, I get it!  Life isn’t your favorite rollercoaster today.  It’s not always the cheesecake that you dream about on your next cheat day, but it really isn’t going to last forever!  God promises this in Revelation 2:3, “You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary.”  Did you notice the past tense verbs?  This verse acknowledges the hardships that the church in Ephesus had faced and lived to tell the tale!  Hardships can be endured and if they could do it, then so can you and I. The words “persevered” and “endured” denote conclusion. 

So, guess what?

Life is hard, we know it is, but the Holy Spirit is always with us.

You can move on from weakness to strength.

Get over who you think you are.

It really isn’t forever after all.

Our hardships can reflect the grace and mercy of Jesus if we will just let them.

What do you need?

Children tend to be needy. When our girls were too little to speak, we taught them how to use their hands to communicate their needs using sign language. I am convinced this helped discourage temper tantrums and frustration because they were able to answer questions such as, “What do you need?”

Sometimes, there were needs beyond their sign language skills. After we had been through their limited vocabulary it became apparent they were needing something they were unable to communicate. Then the guessing game would begin! I would show them different food options or toys in hopes of fulfilling their request. Occasionally, I could pacify them through distraction or actually providing what was being requested, other times only a nap would solve the problem for both of us! The ultimate goal was for them to feel satisfied they were being heard, not frustrated by their unmet needs.

Last summer, I had a conversation with Jesus concerning my own unmet needs. After expressing at length my requests and petitions, I was lovingly interrupted. Ever been interrupted by Jesus? All of a sudden, He stopped me and lifted my face towards His much like I would do with my girls when the pathway of communication was deteriorating. He asked me this simple question, “What do you need?”

The frankness of the question startled me. Afterall, I had been going on and on about what I needed and wanted. Wasn’t He listening?! With my lip somewhat protruding in a pout, I answered louder than I anticipated, “I need to know it will all be okay!!!” Shocked at my tone, I waited.

His response was quiet and gentle, “Isn’t it always?” Surprised, I sat back in my chair. This was unexpected because my petitions required a better response. I wanted specifics! My soul was open before Him and being questioned in return was not acceptable. I had used up all my sign language ability and was one sign short of a tantrum. Maybe I didn’t express myself clearly because if I had, surely there would have been a different answer.

A few moments passed and I meekly answered His question with a half-hearted, “yes.” More silence followed. Perhaps He was giving me some “nap” time to calm myself. In the stillness I realized my expressed neediness does not always mean I will receive what I want in return. Timing is key and possibly I was not ready. Try as I might when I just could not understand what my girls needed or wanted, I would give up. However, Jesus is always ready to not only listen, but He never gives up!

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6 (NIV)

More silence passed after my response. Again, I was surprised by His words, “Then that’s all you need.” I am grateful for a loving Heavenly Father who knows what I am asking, needing, and wanting even when I cannot communicate clearly. Invariably I don’t know what is best, yet He always does and has the power to provide.

What do you need, friend? Do you just need to know it’s all going to be okay? When we belong to Jesus, even the not-so-okay things can be okay because we belong to one who really does know what is best. When we acknowledge this, He’s all we truly need.

Let’s recap:

Jesus: “What do you need?” Me: “I need to know it will all be okay!!!” Jesus: “Isn’t it always?” Me: “Yes.” Jesus: “Then that’s all you need.”

Make Him all you need.

Wisdom Over Worry

Are you worried today?  Probably a silly question in the current state in which we are living.  May I be honest?  I wrestle with worry.  Sorry, if you were under the impression that somehow, I just might have it all together.  I do not.  Most of the time, “it” has me!  How is that for honesty?!

Humans are captivated by what we hear and see.  When I hear a beautiful symphony, my mind floats along with the notes to how our Creator cares for us enough to allow us to “create” on His behalf.  On sunny warm days, I find myself enthralled at the generosity of God who lavishes us with lovely things to see and behold. 

The opposite of this is also true when I become aware of physical pain and suffering; I am captivated.  When others are exposed to dangerous and harmful things, such as natural disasters or unexplained illness, my attention is captivated.  If I am not careful, that captivation centers my focus only on what I see, which is pain and suffering and the unexplained. 

Right now, in our world we are surrounded and bombarded with visible signs of terrible things.  Worry is ruling our days and interrupting our sleep.  It is even disrupting our days not only in our actions, but in our thoughts.

Here is what I know, worry is equated with the visible, but wisdom is equated with the invisible.  Certain things are very visible in our world right now, unpleasant things, however, what can be unseen are the results of wisdom.

James 1:5 says, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.” (NASB) Wisdom sees the unseen and knows what to do.

The Lord has captivated me with this verse.  How many times do I just casually “forget” to seek wisdom from God?  This verse says that if we lack, we can ask and it will be given GENEROUSLY!!! There is no mention of worry.  If I were to define worry it would be this, “Worry is a lack of wisdom!” 

Where can we find wisdom? The Word.

Here is what God says about wisdom:

            Exodus 31:3 – Bezalel (temple craftsman) was filled with the spirit of God in wisdom, understanding, and knowledge

            Deuteronomy 34:9 – Joshua was filled with a spirit of wisdom

            1 Kings 4:29 – Solomon was given wisdom and great discernment

            Psalm 49:3 – our mouths can speak wisdom

            Psalm 111:10 – the fear of the Lord begins with wisdom

            Proverbs 2:10 – wisdom will enter your heart

            Ecclesiastes 7:12 – wisdom is protection, it preserves those who possess it

            Ecclesiastes 7:19 – wisdom strengthens a wise man

            Luke 2:52 – Jesus kept increasing in wisdom

            Romans 11:33 – there is  a depth of riches in both wisdom and knowledge

Where do we find worry?  The world. 

Paul speaks to the Corinthians in this way, “And when I came to you brethren, I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God. For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified.  I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling, and my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith would NOT rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God.” 1 Corinthians 2:1-5 (NASB)

Wisdom over worry. 

Today. . .

God has always challenged me to write what I know. So, here is what I know today. . .

I am in pain, physical pain. This is not a statement to evoke pity, but rather prayer. It is my daily reality. There are times, however, when my back issues decide to have more of a presence in my life and make more of a statement. This past week as been one of “those” weeks. After five visits to the chiropractor in one week, there is relief.

When I have a flare up like this, I know what to do. First of all, resist the urge to panic because those emotions never lead to healing. Second, get to the chiropractor so he can help address the source of my issue. Third, apply ice and heat, rest, and wait it out. Eventually, I will be able to stretch and exercise again as I am accustomed to, but for the time being, I must put those things aside and pay attention to what my body is telling me.

God speaks to me during seasons of pain. Sometimes there are great revelations and other times not so much. However, He always knows where I am on the journey. He never loses sight of me even though I may lose sight of where I am.

When I am faced with issues that are not physical, the process is the same; take the pain to the source of help and don’t panic! Allow Him to adjust it. As He does, I do the work by digging in and applying the truth of the Word to those areas that are painful or causing me pain. What does He say about my current situation? Where is there a similar situation to mine in the Bible? How did Jesus model this for me? Then I wait for my strength to be restored as I rest in Jesus.

Seems simple, but many times it is not. However, it is most certainly possible. Healing always comes, sometimes more quickly than other times because He is a faithful and loving God.

So here is what I know today, I am known and He knows right where I am. If He knows this about me, He knows it about you.


Let’s get acquainted! I’m Kelli Best, what’s your name?

This is a basic question when we first meet someone, wouldn’t you agree? Do you normally lead with your own name, or do you ask the other person’s name first? Normally, I introduce myself first because that’s the way my mom taught me! No right or wrong answer here, just a question, of which there will be many. I like to ask questions, to teach and encourage, and to learn about other’s lives; what makes them unique and what has God called them to do.

So, for now, this is what God has called me to do; to share with you what He is sharing with me.

Having been involved in ministry for the last 35 years of my life, I have experienced many things and grown in ways that are unbelieveable at times! These are the things to be shared and planted into the lives of others.

I am an ordained minister with the Assemblies of God. Bill and I have been married since 1989 and we have two adult children, Ashlee and Paige. Having worked in church ministry for 30 plus years, we have served in various churches across the country from Missouri to Texas to Ohio and now in Washington state. For many years, we worked specifically in music ministry. Bill then became an associate pastor and finally a lead pastor in eastern Washington where we have been for the last ten years. I have served in women’s ministry for many years in the local church as well as at the Northwest Ministry Network as Women’s Ministry Facilitator for two years. I love speaking and writing and the opportunity to share with others what God is doing in my own life and what He is revealing to me. Cooking and baking are passions as well as reading and all things coffee!

I hope you find something here that sparks an interest. If not, it was nice to meet you.

Let’s begin. . .

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