When I was at one of the lowest points in my life, I listened to a message by one of my favorite Bible teachers, Joyce Meyer, called “Beauty for Ashes.” After listening to that message over and over again, I don’t think my thought process about hardship and suffering has ever been the same. She shared that even though we may be dealing with some tough stuff, God will heal us and not only will He heal us everywhere we hurt, but He will also reward us for our trouble. Wow! That blew my mind. It made me think, “Okay, I can get through this because God is aware of what I’m going through. He knows my circumstances have burned me to the ground, but He will bless me in the end. I just have to hang in there long enough to rise up from the ashes.”
When something burns in the natural, in most cases, it cannot be restored. When our circumstances burn up, it is painful, and the burning of that painful situation can only leave us with more pain. Not only that, we’re left with emotional ashes…the remnants of what could have been. The difference is that a burning in our circumstances is not the end for us.
Our ashes may represent disappointments, missed opportunities, loss, heartache, grief, and much more, but God promises to give us His beauty for our ashes in Isaiah 61:2-3. It states, “…to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, 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 joy 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.” (NIV)
Our Father promises us that He’ll make wrong things right. God’s Word tells us in Isaiah 61:7, “Instead of your shame you will receive a double portion, and instead of disgrace you will rejoice in your inheritance. And so you will inherit a double portion in your land, and everlasting joy will be yours.” Isaiah 61:8 goes on to say, “For I the Lord love Justice;” (NIV) So, even though it may seem like God may not be paying much attention to us because life sometimes feels like it just snowballs downhill, we can rest assured that God is always paying attention. He is a God of justice, and will balance the scales for us. If we keep believing and keep pressing on, He will deliver us in a grand way! Job 36:7 tells us, “He does not take his eyes off the righteous; He enthrones them with kings and exalts them forever.” (NIV) I do believe Job has some pretty massive authority in the area of suffering, so his witness to us is very important. Psalm 121:8 also speaks of this. “The Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.” (NIV) So, with all of that, we know that God is paying attention to us, and He knows our weaknesses and our needs. Our part is to trust and believe that He can make something beautiful out of an ugly situation.
The faith we need to give our ashes to God won’t just happen through osmosis though. We have to be intentional in making sure we keep the faith. That means we have to read the Word of God. We have to stay in constant communication with Him through prayer and meditation. We have to stay in fellowship with other believers. We have to read inspirational messages and listen to God’s Word through our pastors and other Bible teachers. We have to keep thoughts of Him at the forefront of our minds. It may seem like a lot, but it’s all for our benefit. What’s the other option? Giving up? Nope, I’m not a quitter, and because you’re here with me today, I know you’re not one either. If we make it a daily habit of reading and studying His Word, it will become second nature. It will feel as natural as putting on clothes or eating because making time for God’s Word is also a necessity. We must learn enough about Him so that we can understand without a shadow of a doubt that He truly wants to take our ashes and turn them into beauty.
When we’ve been devastated or disappointed by life, those are ashes that we can give to God. Just like wood ash can be used to enhance and make a garden beautiful, God can turn our devastation or disappointment (ash) into a situation of beauty. And because God is who He is, He will turn that ugly ash into something so beautiful that we could have never even imagined the great things that He will bring into our lives. I love Ephesians 3:20, so you may see it over and over again in my posts. In this cherished scripture, Paul says as part of his prayer for the Ephesians, “Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us…” (Ephesians 3:20, NKJV) In this verse, we see that God will do exceedingly and abundantly above what we can imagine, but it’s according to the power that works in us. Our faith power has to work within us in order for us to see the “exceeding and abundant” blessings that we all wish to have.
Today, let’s give our ashes to God so that He can give us His Everlasting Beauty.