Lenten Reader | Day 23

Beauty From Ashes

He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, 
     to proclaim freedom for the captives
     and release from darkness for the prisoners,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor 

     and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
     and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
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.
They will be called oaks of righteousness, 

     a planting of the Lord
     for the display of his splendor.

- Isaiah 61:1b-3
Life has a way of throwing curveballs that we are not prepared for. After tragedy strikes, we are left with a pile of rubble and ashes. It hurts. It leaves its mark, like ashes of grief.

I have learned through the death of our daughter that God uses and even desires our brokenness. Alice was born 16 weeks early on April 12th, 2017. She was beautiful. Despite all efforts and our pleas, she passed away the next day, April 13th. I was heartbroken, angry, filled with guilt and shame that I couldn’t protect her like a mother should. I left the hospital with empty arms, an empty heart, and a crushed spirit. The why questions filled my mind and darkness settled into my heart. Why God? What now? Where were you?

Where was God in it all? His truth says this: He was there. In the midst of it all. Though we may not always see it, we can know without a doubt, that He is there now. “To provide for those who grieve...to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes” (Isaiah 61:3). God never intends for us to stay stuck in our pain. He heals and restores. He reminds us that in Him, we have great purpose and hope.

It can be difficult to surrender in the midst of great sorrow but know that God has your best interests at heart. He loves you and has a perfect plan for your life. God can take what we believe to be the worst of circumstances and turn it into something great and beautiful. The ashes will fall away, but His greatness and glory will shine forever.

Hold on to these truths. No matter the circumstances or how deep the grief, Jesus is with us. Ready and able to take our pain and sorrow and replace it with His joy, peace, and goodness. May He bring comfort and care as He wraps you in His arms. Christ came to redeem, to bring hope. Christ came to bring beauty from ashes.

- Kim Lloyd
Father, life is beyond hard at times. Sometimes it crushes us. But I know that you walk through it with me. Thank you for bringing beauty from my ashes.