Beauty for Ashes

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

How hard is it to give thanks to express joy in the middle of our mess?

We can’t often change our circumstance but we can change how we see them. We can make adjustments. We might have to adjust our perspective on what is happening in our lives. In the middle of our mess we get to choose whether to move closer to joy or away from it. Whichever way we choose, we usually “wear” our emotional conditions!

In the Old Testament days people wore sackcloths when they were in mourning and they placed ashes on their heads. Sackcloths and ashes were also used to show repentance. They also wore decorative clothing for festivals. Their clothing indicated their condition – some suitable for mourning and some suitable for rejoicing.

What would you wear on a daily basis if what you wore symbolized your frame of mind?

We don’t use these Old Testament symbols today to indicate our sorrow, but what are the indicators that people are in despair or hard times of any kind?

Sad faces, bad attitudes, angry retorts, sullenness, withdrawal, on and on.

The Prophet Isaiah prophesied the Messiah would come to heal the brokenhearted. In fact, this Messiah was going to…

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. (Isaiah 41:3 NLT)

Jesus came to turn our ashes into beauty to give us a joyous blessing instead of mourning, to take our despair and turn it into festive praise. He came to make us “like great oaks” planted for his glory.

Jesus wants to take our ugly and make it beautiful. He wants to turn our ashes into beauty. He wants to make us strong like great oaks so that we can live for his glory.

It’s easy to add to express joy when the sun is shining and all seems right with our world. But searching for joy in the hard places is a challenge. We often have to go on a treasure hunt to find the joy. Counting blessings in the middle of our mess reminds us to focus on the good in life instead of the shortcomings.

The next time your emotions begin a downward spiral, consider activating the Law of Exchange. Replace the disparaging, sullen thoughts with joyous ones. You can choose to exchange your bad attitudes for good ones. You can choose to live in thankfulness. In the middle of your mess you can choose to focus on life’s blessings instead of its shortcomings.

Wear joy!


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