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Understanding Isaiah: A Woman’s Perspective

The Isaiah chapters in the Book of Mormon can be difficult to understand. They are written in a very ancient language and often use symbolism and figurative language. However, these chapters are also some of the most beautiful and powerful scriptures in all of scripture. They teach us about Jesus Christ, His mission, and His Atonement.


"I have felt the music. That is what these paintings are about and I'm hoping more than anything in the world that you hear and feel the music of Isaiah."


With the unique perspective of a woman and the insightful eyes of an painter, Latter-day Saint artist Natalie Hunsaker has begin the series “Understanding Isaiah - A women's perspective" to help others "hear the beautiful music" of the messages of Isaiah.


"I know that Isaiah is a tough book of scripture. There is just a collective groan whenever anybody brings up Isaiah," she says. "But I want to share with you why I am so excited about his writings."  


She relates studying Isaiah to learning to play the piano:


"It's really hard to get through that slog of practice and I think where we've kind of collectively struggled with Isaiah is that we're in the slog. Every resource available, it seems like, is this really technical academic commentary. And those commentaries are useful just like practicing the notes of the piano. But I think we're missing the music of Isaiah."

"I used to think of judgment as the 'oh no' principle and then mercy was the 'oh, phew' principle that kind of saved me from the scary thing of justice. But it totally took me off guard when I was reading Isaiah 1:16-18."

Justice & Mercy

"I was so excited to paint this artwork because it really represents everything that I learned about justice and judgment from the writings of Isaiah."


God's justice and mercy are two of His most important characteristics. His justice ensures that wrongdoing is made right and that His people are protected from harm. Meanwhile, His mercy provides second chances and allows us to receive His forgiveness. These two qualities work together to support our role as independent agents, able to make our own choices and thus reap the consequences, whether those be positive or negative. 


In this quick clip, Natalie Hunsaker explains some of how her study of these two principles inspired her to create this new painting. 


It is a stunning piece of artwork full of unique symbolism that we hope help expand your vision of these two vitally important truths. And, as a result, add new insight into God's character as our loving Heavenly Father. 


As Natalie says: "I used to think of judgment as the 'oh no' principle and then mercy was the 'oh, phew' principle that kind of saved me from the scary thing of justice. But it totally took me off guard when I was reading Isaiah 1:16-18. It's this exciting looking forward to redemption. Your sins, even though they're like scarlet they're going to be white as snow. Even though they're red like crimson they're going to be white as wool."

Justice & Mercy by Natalie Hunsaker

Circumstance

The verses about Christ's suffering in Isaiah 53 are what inspired Natalie to create this next painting. This passage of scripture tells us of the great love and sacrifice that Jesus made for us. He took our sin and our pain upon Himself so that we could be free from both. 


As she explains: "We can see that he's a man of sorrows and he's acquainted with grief and we can appreciate everything that he went through for us."


These verses remind us that no matter what we are going through in life, Jesus knows our pain and our suffering. He is there with us, even when it feels like He isn't. These verses also remind us of the great hope we have in Christ. 


"When I look at this circumstance of my family and when I look at the circumstances of Jesus Christ I realized that there are ways to achieve our purpose in life regardless of whatever that circumstance is. I came to peace with my family. I felt a sense of hope for the future and a knowledge that I was still perfectly capable of accomplishing what God put me on this earth to do."


No matter what happens in this life, we know that we are safe in His arms. "Circumstance" is a great reminder of the hope that we have in Christ, regardless of the hand life has dealt us. 


Young woman tending to a small potted plant sitting on a pedastal.

Circumstance by Natalie Hunsaker

Motherhood

Isaiah 66 is especially close to Natalie's heart as a mother and an artist. In this chapter, Christ, as a symbol of protection and nurturing, is compared to a breastfeeding mother. In this clip, she shares a personal experience about motherhood and how she drew strength from these Isaiah verses:


"For me, this was super significant because as a mom of a 25-week-old micro-preemie baby, I wasn't able to breastfeed in the beginning. And I had to learn how to grapple with the fact that some of my expectations of motherhood were not being met in my actual reality. It was this scripture which helped me to really come to terms and find peace and comfort in my situation."


Motherhood is a beautiful and special thing, but it can also be challenging. Mothers need to have support and understanding, especially when things don't go according to plan. The painting by Natalie Hunsaker represents the strength and comfort that can be found in scripture, even amid difficulties.


"If motherhood has been a surprise for you if some of your expectations haven't been met as you went into motherhood, I hope this painting can represent for you a sense of calm and a sense of peace and a sense of confidence that everything will work out in the end." 

Motherhood by Natalie Hunsaker

"Isaiah 57 describes being tired and weary but finding life of your own hands. And because you found that life, it doesn't even occur to you to be grieved. And I realized that that was exactly the trap that I had fallen into. I was definitely tired and exhausted, and life just seemed super challenging in a way that I did not know how to face."

Identity

There are many ways to identify ourselves in modern society. It might be a title, a career, a skill, or a social group. In the end, our true nature comes from being children of God.


Natalie explored this idea of identity in her new painting. In this clip, she explains part of her journey as an artist trying to find her footing: 


 "I finally learned how to stop making lemonade out of rotting lemons and just to get rid of the rotting lemons. I had some hobbies that were so important to me. They were such a huge part of my identity that I really didn't know if it was even possible to let them go."


"This hobby of mine seemed like an outlet. It seemed like it would relieve the pressure, and for a short time, it would. But it kept me from actually feeling the awareness of the changes that I needed to make."


Much of her inspiration for this piece comes from Isaiah 57 where we read about finding peace versus experiencing weariness. 


"Isaiah 57 describes being tired and weary but finding life of your own hands. And because you found that life, it doesn't even occur to you to be grieved. And I realized that that was exactly the trap that I had fallen into. I was definitely tired and exhausted, and life just seemed super challenging in a way that I did not know how to face."


What insights do you see in this painting? 

Painting of a young woman in a red dress. A rock is on the hem of her dress  and she holds a golden fruit.

Identity by Natalie Hunsaker

Beauty

"I can confidently say that there was my life before I understood the importance of beautyand after I understood the importance of beauty."


Believe it or not, a career in art was something Natalie once considered: “the dumbest career possible.” She believed it to be silly and impractical. Yet, in this section of her Isaiah series, she explains how she came to understand just how important beauty–in its true definition–is to our spiritual journey. 


"There is a reason that Isaiah connects strength and beauty. There's a reason that he connects glory and beauty."


Her message is especially vital today in a modern society that seems intent on tearing down “anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy” (Articles of Faith 13). In a fast-paced time full of instant gratification, quick fixes, and camera filters, Natalie explains that a more in-depth, spiritual study of beauty can help us stay focused. And she has draws much of her insight from Isaiah’s poetic writings. 


"If you feel cynical about what you hear on the news, or if you struggle with the way your body looks when you look in the mirror, or if you feel like you kind of lack hope for what's going on in this world please study the concept of beauty. It will completely change the way that you live your life. It certainly has changed the way that I've lived mine."

Beauty by Natalie Hunsaker

"This scripture completely changed how I handled the difficulties of my life and all the medical challenges that my daughter was facing." 

Imitations 

Natalie draws a unique perspective from Isaiah 44, looking at it as a mother who had to watch her daughter go through immense pain. Through this excruciating experience and her own personal study of these sacred verses, she learned more about what true healing means. 


"True healing is not necessarily physical perfection. True healing can actually be found in the messy middle. In fact, the mess is part of how you access the healing. True healing is something that actually deepens relationships and deepens our courage to be able to face really big emotions that we didn't even know that we had the strength to face." 


It is easy to fall into the trap of looking only to immediate sources of help to save us. But Natalie points out that there is danger in trying to replace what the Savior already offers us. As she says in the video:


"Listen to the warning that he talks about in this chapter. The warning that he talks about when we hold things up as anything that has the power to save us or heal us besides God himself."


While each of us experiences different difficulties in life, God’s promises remain the same. If we trust Him, we will one day find healing and then some. The scriptures promise that all tears will be wiped away and our cup will run over with blessings. 


"This scripture completely changed how I handled the difficulties of my life and all the medical challenges that my daughter was facing."

A young woman in glasses sitting at a desk and holding a vial.

Imitations by Natalie Hunsaker