Wednesday in the Word: Covered in Ashes

I have a lot of pictures in my office. Most are phrases, quotes, and inspiring words. Some come from scripture. One is a quote from Elizabeth Elliot. It’s not that I’m a huge Elizabeth Elliot fan. But as I window shopped at a local craft fair, the quote hit me. It was a tough season for me in many ways. I nearly cried in a jam-packed public event as I read, “Of one thing I am perfectly sure; God’s story never ends with ashes.”

Whenever the days are hard and the battles seem impossible to win, I can take comfort in the quote. But it’s not because of the person who spoke them. My comfort comes from the scriptures she may have used as inspiration for the quote.

“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.” Isaiah 61:3

Yesterday, the concept brought me to tears (Please believe, I rarely give in to tears.) as I listened to a familiar song. Beauty for ashes. It happens as we lay our mourning, hurting, disappointment, and fears at the feet of our crucified Lord.  (I included the song link to YouTube below)

Thing is, this transformation from ashes to beauty isn’t always easy, and it isn’t always overnight. The same thing that broke my heart when I saw the quote at the craft fair three years ago is still breaking my heart today. For three years, I have consistently prayed for the redemption of the situation in the ones I love, and for three years I’ve only seen temporary glimpses of encouragement. Most of those have been God reminding me He cares, not Him touching my loved ones’ hearts and lives.

God can be working where I cannot see. He knows what is best and loves my loved ones even more and more perfectly than I do. My Heavenly Father hears and answers prayer. One day my ashes of mourning will be replaced with beauty beyond my imagination. I believe each of these things with all my heart.

Though at times it is difficult to see it as I sit in ashes, I believe. My prayers continue because I know and trust my God and His word. I can find encouragement in that simple quote and this beautiful song. But more specifically, I find it in God’s word and hold it close to my heart.

“I would have lost heart, unless I believed, That I would see the goodness of the LORD In the land of the living. Wait on the LORD; Be of good courage, And He shall strengthen your heart; Wait, I say, on the LORD!” Psalm 27:13-14

Whatever you’re going through, you are never alone as a child of God. You are loved. God sees you. I know it can be hard, but you will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living. Keep praying. Keep believing. One day the ashes will be gone, leaving beauty in their place.

Have you ever experienced God turning your ashes into beauty?

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  1. Donna Stearns says:

    A person doesn’t have to live long to experience God’s turning ashes into beauty or mourning into joy. Many times He has not only sustained me but brought joy and beauty into my heart out of difficult situations.