Finding Beauty in the ashes of Life
GROVE, OK (ANS - March 19, 2017) -- "To all who mourn in Israel he will give: beauty for ashes; joy instead of mourning; praise instead of heaviness. For God has planted them like strong and graceful oaks for his own glory" -- Isaiah 61:3 (TLB)
Bright yellow daffodils began to appear in late February in northeastern Oklahoma. Because of the mild winter weather, trees are budding, snakes are slithering and mosquitos are buzzing.
While I don't welcome the snakes or the bugs, I love the sight of flowers and trees announcing the upcoming spring weather. Even without a harsh winter, these sights bring renewed hope, especially for those, like me, who are struggling.
Out for a walk recently, I spotted a cluster of sunny daffodils sprouting from a tomb of rocks around a large oak tree in a neighbor's yard. The contrast between the yellow flowers and the gray and brown mottled surface of the rocks drew my attention. The flowers, pushing their way through the harshness of the stone, reminded me of God's promises.
In Isaiah 61:3, God promises the Israelites that He will give them beauty for ashes, joy instead of mourning and praise instead of heaviness. They faced challenges, but God offered hope.
In the midst of our trials-the fear, the uncertainty, the weariness, the suffering, the mourning-we can take heart in God's promise to give us beauty for the ashes of life. We can find the beauty in these hardships if we seek Him. In 1 Chronicles 16:11 we read, "Look to the Lord and his strength; seek his face always."
Ask yourself the following questions:
1. Do I look to the Lord for strength or am I trying to solve problems by myself?
2. Do I seek His face in the pages of scripture or am I too busy to read the Bible?
3. Do I ask Him for healing, for discernment, for provision, for guidance or am I still stewing in the ashes of despair?
What is the definition of ash? It is what remains after something is burned. In other words, it is finished. Whatever your ashes may be, it is done. Remember Jesus' final words on the cross? In John 19:30, He said, "It is finished!"
Jesus' last words meant His suffering was over. The work His Father had given Him to do while on earth was to preach the Gospel, work miracles and obtain eternal salvation for His people. His work was done. Accomplished. Fulfilled. The sin debt was stamped "paid in full."
In Jeremiah 29:13, God says, "And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart."
Searching each morning for God in the pages of my well-worn Bible, I find strength to face whatever comes my way that day. I find comfort and renewed hope in the stories of others who have struggled and emerged victorious.
God asks us to trust Him one day at a time. Remember the Israelites lost in the wilderness? God provided manna each day to meet their needs and He still delivers His children today.
Photo captions: 1) God gives us beauty for our ashes. (Photo: Carol Round). 2) Carol Round.
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