Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Isaiah 61:3-4 -- On Beauty for Ashes

"To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he might be glorified.
And they shall build the old wastes, they shall raise up the former desolations, and they shall repair the waste cities, the desolations of many generations."
Isaiah 61:3-4

God knows that our lives aren't always going to go well.  He knows that we're going to be disappointed, sad, angry, depressed, frustrated, and even hopeless sometimes.  He knows that we're all going to suffer and have to face some really hard challenges and tough decisions.  He knows that we're going to face weaknesses and mistakes and infirmities that aren't easy to overcome, that are going to be part of our lives for a long time, and that we have to learn to work around.  I imagine that it is hard for him to see us suffering or in pain.  But, just like our earthly parents, our Heavenly Father knows that we need to go through all of this in order to grow up and become like him.  He is here with us to support us through it all, if we allow him to be a part of our lives.  And in the end, he knows that life isn't only about pain or uncertainty or problems.  It is also about love, and joy, and peace.  That we can learn to focus on the good and learn happiness and confidence even in the midst of chaos.
Part of that good is discussed in these verses, talking about the last days, and what God will do for his people.  He will give us good instead of bad... and in a permanent way.  Beauty for ashes seems symbolic of a fire in reverse, right?  Instead of destruction, it is creation, newness... and not just a lump of dirt newness, but a beautiful creation.  Oil of joy, to be used again and again.  A garment of praise, which we never have to take off. :)  I really like trees of righteousness too.  Standing tall and straight, and basically forever, strong in our faith and dedication. :)  And we will make all this symbolism come true for others as well, because we will build the wastes, restoring and repairing.  Making all things new. :)
Today, let's remember that there is a purpose to all of it, and a creator behind it.  Let's not worry about the current destruction or ashes of our lives, because through God we will be able to exchange them for beauty, and joy, and praise, and glorious newness of life.

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