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Up From the Ashes

A Repost

This post was originally shared in September of 2019. A lot has happened since then! I felt it was as relevant now as it was then, so decided to repost it here.

Isaiah 61: 1 – 4

The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me,
because the LORD has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor;
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives,
and the opening of the prison to those who are bound;
to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favour,
and the day of vengeance of our God;
to comfort all who mourn;
to grant to those who mourn in Zion—
to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness instead of mourning,
the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit;
that they may be called oaks of righteousness,
the planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified.
They shall build up the ancient ruins;
they shall raise up the former devastations;
they shall repair the ruined cities,
the devastations of many generations. (ESV)

Liberty for captives; comfort for those who mourn; rebuilding of devastated ruins… This is a powerful truth – out of the ashes, God can make something beautiful. 

The Biblical metaphors are abundant: Gold can only be refined by fire. A seed must die in order to grow into a new plant. Only through death are we ushered into heaven. It’s a well-known principle and one of the greatest paradoxes we can imagine. God uses darkness to emphasize the light. 

I believe that everyone has a story to tell that relates to this theme…. about a time when God met them in the midst of their trials and used pain and suffering to bring about an even greater blessing. Sometimes it is through health-related trials. (I have experienced this more than once, twice with blindness and once after heart surgery) Or it might be because of a wayward child. (Also been there… very frightening times, I assure you.) How about the death of a loved one? (The untimely death of my 18-year-old cousin left an unforgettable imprint, as did that of my brother-in-law shortly after I was married.) Financial difficulties can be an immense trial. (Have I ever mentioned the time we had absolutely nothing to eat for months besides deer meat and faba beans?) I am grateful that I never suffered abuse as a child, but I did go through my share of heartache when my parents divorced.

No one is exempt. Each one of us has our own burdens to bear, but I can honestly say that in retrospect I have grown spiritually and emotionally through each one. While not necessarily grateful for the trial itself, I am thankful for the resulting growth. Each has given me tangible evidence of God’s amazing love and care. This has spilled over into my writing life, as well. The pain of years of rejection gave me the fortitude to persevere, taught me about owning my own voice as an author, and helped me embrace the call to write that God has placed on my life – despite the hardships.

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