www.therapyforchristians.com - Therapy For Christians
Posted 06/20/2023 in Christian Mental Health Tips

Beauty for Ashes: Finding Hope in the Midst of Pain


Beauty for Ashes: Finding Hope in the Midst of Pain

Her ashes were neck-deep. Two of her children, Jesse and then Emilie, lost to suicide. Yet her story is ultimately one of exchanging ashes for beauty.

I started meeting with her right after her daughter Emilie died when she was nearly buried in the ashes of her grief. I discovered that the only way to help her right then was to sit in those ashes with her, and as I did, I learned a great deal about grieving.

Over time, I watched her return to joy. Honestly I think that in this life she will always carry some ashes, but I’ve seen her awaken to the beauty the Lord God gives her, sometimes in the most unexpected ways.

There is a promise in Isaiah that she clings to - that Jesus will take HER ashes and replace them with HIS crown of glory. She’s quick to notice these trade-offs now. And in the noticing she finds hope for today and for all of her tomorrows. It’s been humbling to be by her side, to see the holy exchanges of her ashes for His crown.



What does the Bible say about beauty for ashes?

ISAIAH 61:1-3

Good News for the Oppressed

1 The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me,

for the Lord has anointed me

to bring good news to the poor.

He has sent me to comfort the brokenhearted

and to proclaim that captives will be released

and prisoners will be freed.

2 He has sent me to tell those who mourn

that the time of the Lord’s favor has come,

and with it, the day of God’s anger against their enemies.

3 To all who mourn in Israel,

he will give a crown of beauty for ashes,

a joyous blessing instead of mourning,

festive praise instead of despair.

In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks

that the Lord has planted for his own glory. ~ NIV

Jesus quotes Isaiah 61:1-2 when He teaches in the temple, and declares Himself to be the fulfillment of that prophecy (see Luke 4:18-21). But the following verse, verse 3, is a beautiful picture of Jesus’ return, when all of the exchanges He promises us will be made once and for all, permanently. Good news, indeed!

There is an important distinction to be made here. When I came to understand that all of verse 3 is a series of exchanges - “instead ofs” - I realized how often this verse is misquoted as “beauty FROM ashes” rather than FOR ashes. The truth is that nothing good comes from ashes, but He gives a crown beauty in exchange for, or instead of, ashes.

Ashes in the Old Testament were symbolic of mourning, and of repentance. We read about tearing of garments, the wearing of sackcloth and ashes, and we get a picture of someone so completely overwhelmed with grief they are lying face down on the ground. Wouldn’t we all like that sorrow to be traded away for something beautiful? What a picture, to stand before Jesus Christ as He wipes away the ashes and places a beautiful crown gently on our heads.

Angie Clayton words on beauty for ashes Like this content on Facebook

Who in the Bible promised beauty for ashes?

Isaiah the Prophet is speaking, but he is speaking the words of the Lord God. He says, “The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me.” He was God’s anointed one to bring good news to the oppressed. Ultimately, verse 3 will be fulfilled at Jesus’ Second Coming, but we also get to experience it now.

How Does God Give Beauty for Ashes?

In dealing with my own disappointment and grief, and watching my friend’s deep mourning and that of others, I’ve seen that God trades our ashes for His beauty in a variety of ways - ways that speak to our own unique soul. Sometimes it’s as simple as a sunrise, or a butterfly. It could sound like a song or look like a story. Perhaps it will be a new friend, or a mending of an old relationship.

Almost assuredly there will be personal change - such a tradeoff as this could never happen without being fundamentally affected. We become more empathetic, more understanding, better listeners. We may experience Scripture in a new way that leaves an indelible mark. We will surely begin to better understand who the Lord God is and how much He loves us.

All of this? Beauty.

5 ways to find beauty for ashes when we grieve PinPin It

Five Ways to Find Beauty for Ashes When We Experience Suffering or Mourning

I use the term “Bright Side” a lot. It reminds me to watch for beautiful things, no  matter what the circumstances. When we are deep in mourning, it is very difficult to find a bright side to anything. If you need a structured approach for find the bring side, check out this article on treasure hunting

As time goes on, we can begin to see His hand at work around us and in us and through us. He can work any way He chooses, of course! So there’s no “pat answer” here, but there are some ways my friend and I have seen Him at work, giving us beauty when we might least expect it.



Praise and Worship

When we go to God broken and vulnerable, we inevitably encounter Him. Praising Him in our pain is not easy, but it is possible - it doesn’t have to look or sound or feel any certain way, just come before Him in surrender and acknowledge that He is God or Heavenly Father. He can handle our mad, our sad, our wounds, and He wants us to bring them to His feet. Our ashes, to His feet.

Read the Bible

Don’t just read it, actually. Absorb it. “Hear” it. Let it sink deeply into your soul. God ministers to us through His word with tender loving care.

If you are new to reading and studying the Bible, it can seem overwhelming. Focus on a few verses at a time, and search out someone who can answer your questions and guide you.

There is really nothing more beautiful than understanding God’s word more deeply than you ever have before.

Build Relationships

Look for people who will take you as you are. They are the ones that stick around. Sometimes they are the last ones you might expect. There is so much beauty in godly friendships, and often we miss out on it because of old wounds (ashes).

Seek a Purpose

When we can, looking outside of ourselves for a place/way to minister to others can be a beauty that is hard to describe. Serving out of our own pain is a powerful reminder of who we are in Jesus, and the blessing that we get back is usually greater than the one we’ve given.

This doesn’t have to be a big formal thing. Take a meal. Send a card or a text. Sit quietly, and cry alongside someone who is mourning. Do the things you need(ed) most during your darkest days.

Create a Legacy

When you’ve lost a loved one, sometimes a legacy is very beautiful. A tree, a park bench - or maybe something less traditional. Recently I published a book that includes sections on my friend and her losses, and she considers it to be her childrens’ legacy. The “what” doesn’t matter so much as that there is beauty in place of ashes there.

Final Thoughts on Beauty for Ashes

It’s interesting to note that in the original language of Hebrew, verse 3 says that He will give them “pheer” - translated beauty, for ashes - “epher.” Can you see it? If you move just one letter, ashes are replaced by beauty.

We have to hand them over, though, in order for it to be an exchange. This will take time. Certainly it isn’t easy. Sometimes ashes are all we can see. But there’s hope in these verses, a hope we (like my friend) can cling to, a truth that cannot be shaken. It’s a promise from the Father God who loves us like crazy. He loves us so much that He redeems even the most painful and wounded parts of us. He replaces our huge, dirty piles of ashes with His beautiful crown.

We have identified the below resource to help you to remember God will give you beauty for ashes: 


Peering into the Tunnel: An Outsider's Look into GriefPeering into the Tunnel: An Outsider's Look into GriefPeering into the Tunnel: An Outsider's Look into GriefBeauty for Ashes, Isaiah 61:3, Christian Art Print,Beauty for Ashes, Isaiah 61:3, Christian Art Print,Beauty for Ashes, Isaiah 61:3, Christian Art Print,Beauty for Ashes: Receiving Emotional HealingBeauty for Ashes: Receiving Emotional HealingBeauty for Ashes: Receiving Emotional HealingBeauty for Ashes Bible Verse Isaiah 61:3 Cool Novelty Design T-ShirtBeauty for Ashes Bible Verse Isaiah 61:3 Cool Novelty Design T-ShirtBeauty for Ashes Bible Verse Isaiah 61:3 Cool Novelty Design T-ShirtBeauty for Ashes Bible Verse Isaiah 61:3 Cool Novelty Design Throw PillowBeauty for Ashes Bible Verse Isaiah 61:3 Cool Novelty Design Throw PillowBeauty for Ashes Bible Verse Isaiah 61:3 Cool Novelty Design Throw PillowBeauty for Ashes Bible Verse Isaiah 61:3 Cool Novelty Design Tote BagBeauty for Ashes Bible Verse Isaiah 61:3 Cool Novelty Design Tote BagBeauty for Ashes Bible Verse Isaiah 61:3 Cool Novelty Design Tote Bag

 



Before you leave, we would appreciate it if you helped us spread the word by sharing, tweeting, pinning, etc. this post.


Shares
facebook-white sharing button Share
pinterest-white sharing button Pin
twitter-white sharing button Tweet
linkedin-white sharing button Share
email-white sharing button Email
sharethis-white sharing button Share



Author Bio:

Angie Clayton is an author, speaker and blogger who has a passion for ministering to the grieving. Some of her writing reflects those experiences. She is a storyteller, and her blog, Framing the Days, is rich with diversity. She has a ministry of presence, and spends much time with grieving women. Her blog shares with you the joys and beauty of both the mountain tops and the valleys of her life. Her book, “Peering into the Tunnel: An Outsider’s Look into Grief,” is a collection of real stories, as well as helpful suggestions for how to come alongside someone who is grieving.

Angie has been married to Greg for over three decades, and they especially enjoy time spent with their grandkids.

Website: angieclayton.net

Email: angie@angieclayton.net

Facebook: Angie Clayton, Author

Help us increase mental health awareness in the Christian community by donating through our paypal link here: www.paypal.com/therapyforchristians, joining our mailing list by clicking below, or join our provider list here: Provider listing

Disclaimer: the information, including but not limited to, text, graphics, images and other material contained on this article are for informational purposes only. No material on this site is intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. If you are looking for a Christian counselor near you, please check out our directory located here:  Christians Therapist Near Me




Featured Christian Therapists

Suhana deLeon-Sanchez

Specialty Psychiatrist or Nurse Practiti... Located in New York, NY

View Listing
William Parker

Specialty Therapists Located in Jupiter, FL

View Listing
Elyse

Specialty Christian Mental Health Providers

View Listing

Christian Mental Health Providers