Isaiah 61:3 “To console those who mourn in Zion, To give them beauty for ashes, The oil of joy for mourning, The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; That they may be called trees of righteousness, The planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.”
I want to concentrate on this portion of the scripture, “beauty for ashes.”
What exactly does that mean? When we read these words it is referring to God’s redemptive power in humanity & throughout the ages since the beginning of time.
Many scriptures tell us that we will experience trials and tribulations. We will succeed and fail, we will be strong and fall away. Life is hard. Often we find ourselves in places we never dreamed we would be, circumstances that feel they will end us. We just can’t…continue, get over it, move forward, forgive; we are undone.
I have been there, that place where the hurt runs deep that I can almost taste the bitterness of it all. So overwhelmed that I cannot think and can barely breathe. Looking for a way out, needing desperately for something to change, feeling as though I could not go on, maybe I should end it all.
Even though at times my faith has been small, God showed up. He was always with me. God never leaves us alone to face anything. Yes, there are times He seems far away, and very quiet, but in reality, He is closer than ever. We just cannot see it or feel it. But God honors our faith no matter how big or small, and when we activate that faith and surrender it all to him; He does what seems impossible, the mountains and trials in life start shifting, and we begin to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Hope starts bubbling to the surface, and what you thought would end you has now made you stronger. Those ashes are now looking less life-ending and more life-beginning, fresh, and new.
When I take a long hard look back at my life, I see the times, often years that I felt nothing would change, how could it, when would it get better; and I see that without my noticing, life did move forward, that hard season did end, my heart found the beat of hope, I moved forward, old baggage fell off, and I was being made new, being filled fresh and new with the Holy Spirit, the tears dried up, the ache had left my heart, I had a bounce in my step…God had changed it all and gave me the grace and mercy I needed. Lifted me and even held me & I had not noticed it all the time.
Fast forward, so many of those things seem so distant and now so unworthy of my time and pain. I see them with new spiritual eyes and I am even grateful for them, Why, because they changed me, they helped me to see my need for Jesus. They allowed me to crawl into his lap and say I cannot, but You can! They also let me see His faithfulness in my life, that when I fully trust that He is, and He can and I lay it all down, things change, mountains fall, and life is breathed back into me.
God longs to hold you, to help you, to fill you, and to give you that beauty for ashes, but He will not force you to surrender your so-called right to be hurt, to stay where you are. He stands at the door of your heart knocking, waiting, will you let him in?
If you do not know Jesus as your Savior let me tell you that He is so good, He is so faithful, and the life He gives is eternal and better than anything this world has to offer, let him give you your beauty for ashes.
And if you are His child and yet you find yourself struggling through a hard season, a deep hurt, whatever it is, He is there already, crawl into his lap, cry it out and let him wipe away your tears and restore your hope. This world with all its hurts and trials is just for a moment, remember that!
Also, take time to look back at the faithfulness of God. Here you are on this day, you made it through yesterday…and God has not left you and is moving you forward, your beauty for ashes is just around the bend…you can’t see it, but He does, hold on!