Beauty for ashes
Ashes can only be gotten from something that is totally burnt. A burnt down house; a burnt down car; a burnt down furniture. Yes, totally burnt. Ashes mean total loss. I am reminded of the fires that raged in Napa Valley, California. My prayers are with the victims and their families. People have returned to their homes burnt to the ground. Every tangible thing has being turned to ashes. Entire homes that line a street, burnt. Lines of cars, burnt. Unfortunately even lives have been lost, some 40 and counting; with many others missing. I watched on TV as people walked through the debris of what was once their home – no couch to sit on, no photo album to go through. There was nothing but ashes. And then it dawned on me, that for those able to go through the ashes, there was still life. And though ashes and a long slug, beauty comes from ashes. Yes, you might say, ‘Did I just hear you say beauty? What beauty!’
‘Ashes’ is a phenomenal realization. It means nothing left. I remember a lady who had suffered from cancer and who knew relatively how soon she would pass. A couple of months before, she got rid of all her clothes, shoes, books, everything. Everything she felt her family would have no use of – she gave to Goodwill. She was adamant that there would be nothing left. She made plans for her burial…a cremation. Simply ashes. I wondered about that for a while. Why?
But I see that Ashes do come in one way or the other into our lives. It is not pretty. It is not endearing. It comes into our lives in many forms. It could be a death, a sickness, a loss of a family member, a closing of a business, a closing of a church, a loss of a pet, a divorce… Ashes come everyday. We see them; we just might not recognize that they are ashes. Ashes are painful. When going through ashes, you will feel like you are in a bottomless hole; you will feel like you will drop forever. How do you recover from a child’s death? Or a marriage where your husband walks out on you because he prefers another woman? How do you go on? Ashes. How do you start again when you have sunk all you own in a business that eventually failed? How do you go on when you believed your loved one will be healed and they eventually passed away. I have heard many people say that to me, ‘Why did God not heal her?’
Ashes. Ashes will come. God knew Ashes would come; that is why Isaiah 61:3 has been given to us. It says:
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.”
To console those who mourn. God knows that one day we will all mourn. He knows. But He says He will give us beauty for ashes; oil of joy for mourning; garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness!
Ashes will come, loss will come. Yes. But what will also come is beauty and oil of joy and the garment of praise.
I am not simplifying the suffering. I am simply hoping to put ‘our ashes’ in the context of God’s beauty. What He will give us will make us look past the ashes. And I know when the ashes are fresh and smoldering – it is difficult for us to see beauty. But His beauty will come. It will come into our lives, and drive the ashes out in Jesus’ name.
Linda faith is the Editor in Chief of Jewels Magazine. She has authored eight books. She is a prolific writer and powerful speaker, inspiring many women to be all God has called them to be. She is the founder of Joy Women’s conference which reaches out to empower, inspire and motivate women in their faith walk. She was a software developer before she started writing.