Beauty for Ashes

“…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…”Isaiah 61:3

I can recall a conversation with one of my big sisters during my last season of unemployment.  She was asking me if I needed anything and I nonchalantly said, “No.”  She began to assert how no one would know what I was going through because outwardly, I looked like I had my “stuff” together.

It amazes me how people can look like they have it all together outwardly but, inwardly be a wreck.  In hindsight, thinking back on that day, I was emotionally drained, stressed about bills and dealing with the death of one of my best male friends.  If death teaches you anything, it teaches you to not let anything or anyone steal your joy.  That God is in control and He has the final say.  Unemployment taught me that in your weakness He is your strength.  Life continues to teach me that what you can do on your own in no way compares to what He can do through you.

A “Wilderness Experience” is one of the best things that can happen to you as a Believer.  It can either strengthen your faith allowing you access to God’s favor, or it can break you and force you to learn how to Trust God.  The wilderness is that place of isolation.  It is where you can be in a room full of people, but yet feel so alone.  It’s that place where your friends either become associates or your strength.  In the wilderness you yearn to be closer to God.  There is this sense of longing for Him that overwhelms you.  The wilderness is whatever present storm you are enduring; however, after every storm is a beautiful rainbow.

In biblical culture, it was customary for people to sit in ashes or cover themselves with ashes to express mourning or loss, such as grief over a distressing situation (2 Sam. 13:9).  Ashes are all of the scars or consequences from your storm.  They represent the pain, loss and suffering you have endured. Love left me with some serious scars, but the transition through the wilderness helped me rediscover who I was and adjust my crown.

Biblically, “Beauty for Ashes” is a promise to God’s people that He planned to deliver them from their plight. Every good and perfect thing comes from Him.  No matter what was thrown my way during my wilderness experience I can gracefully say, God gave me Beauty for my Ashes.  Be encouraged knowing, although you may feel alone, God is with you.  He hears you and will deliver you.  Although you may feel fire, once all the flames have died down, you will receive Beauty for your Ashes.

Beautiful thoughts…

  1. How did you mentally survive your last wilderness experience?
  2. Is your wilderness a recurring wilderness? If so, what lesson are you avoiding taking heed to?
  3. How did your wilderness change you as a person mentally, spiritually and emotionally?