Beauty for Ashes


This is a repost of one of my most popular devotionals last year.

We traveled recently to northeast Texas to property that my sister in law’s family owns. As we drove near the property and even onto the property, we noticed the devastation that the wildfires of 2011 left behind. At first we were saddened as we tried to imagine what it had looked like before. What we saw now were blackened trees standing naked in acres of fields with a grey sky as a backdrop.

As we stood outside and stared at what was compared with our imaginations of what had been, I began to notice all of the green bushes that were growing at the base of the trees. My wife mentioned that in a strange way, it was kind of beautiful. My brother said that periodically, fire is actually good for the forest. It’s just hard when the period you own it coincides with the period of fires.

As I looked at, with my wife’s words echoing in my mind, I remembered the scripture in Isaiah 61:3 that said God will give beauty for ashes. I then thought of my life and others I know whose lives had been burned. I remember standing there in shock after my life burned to the ground. I spent a lot of time remembering the way life was before and often wishing I could go back. I spent almost a year in a daily rut of trying to remember the good old days and trying to forget the pain.

My brother was right. Fire can be a good thing. I remembered seeing a billboard with the web address of goodfires.org once. I looked it up to see how a fire can be good. It said that through controlled burning they can increase healthy habitats in the forest, they can promote a varied population and it provides nutrients to the soil that creates quality increases in plant life. The devastation that fire brings increases life.

I think the same holds true in our lives. You may be where I once was. You may be looking at the charred remains of what was your life wondering why God allowed this to happen. I know the feeling. What I’ve learned is that God will replace those ashes with beauty. He can use the fire that burned you to create new life in you. You can’t see it right away and certainly not while you are looking at the remains of the past. You have to search for it. Find that new life. It’s there. It may be just budding, but it’s there.

I remember someone speaking to me a word that they felt God had given them for me after everything I had was burned. They said, “What seems like an end is only a beginning. I have not left you, nor have I forsaken you. I am here by your side. I’m not in front of you or behind you, but here by your side. Where I am taking you, you will experience joy like you’ve never known. Trust in me.” I believe that holds true today.

You may be looking at what seems to be an end. All might seem lost, but it’s not. The fires burned away what was temporary in your life. God wants to create a new beginning in you. He wants to bring you life. He holds to His promise that He will never leave you or forsake you. He knows and sees the pain you have for now. Hang in there, He will create beauty from the ashes of your life.

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