To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he might be glorified. ( Isaiah 61:3 KJV)
We’ve all gone through seasons in our lives where we felt as though our lives was just one big pile of mess. Ashes so to say. Maybe for some of you it was the death of a loved one whether parent, spouse, child, sibling, or even a close friend, For others it may have been a sickness whether physical or mental, it could have been the loss of a relationship whether spousal, friendship, or even business related. For the rest it could have been the loss of a job or living through an abusive situation. It could have been sexual, physical, mental or emotional abuse. It could have been an unplanned pregnancy or the inability to conceive at all. Sometimes the things that cause us to mourn is things that we may have put on our selves. Other times it’s what others may have put on us. More often than not our ashes could be a combination of all the things that I have mentioned above and then some. Today we’re going to talk about those things that makes up our ashes and how God wants to use that to make something beautiful out of our lives.
I remember when I was in my early twenties I suffered with major depression. I didn’t see the point of life. I would see and hear stories of those committing suicide and I would actually be jealous, because I felt that they had the courage to do what I wasn’t brave enough to do. So I would pray for death. I would pray that I would get hit by a car, that I would walk in on a robbery or that lightning would strike. To me death had to have been better than the life that I was living. At the time I couldn’t see past the dark cloud that I lived under. I remember during those times imagining myself actually being able to take my own life, standing before God and him asking me one question. Why didn’t you trust me enough to make it better? Then he would have shown me what my life would have looked like if I would have just held on. It gave me the strength to hold on to see what tomorrow would bring. Things did not change for me overnight but eventually they did change. I still have seasons of discouragement, disappointment, sadness but no longer to the point where I pray for death. The scripture says.
To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes.
The word appoint means to designate, set, fix, establish or settle. It means to determine by authority, or agreement. To mourn is to feel or express sorrow or grief. Zion is described as being both a city of David as well as a city of God. So let’s break this down for a moment, but before we do we have to look at the first two scriptures above it. Isaiah was describing a future time when the Savior Jesus Christ would come. We know that Jesus was indeed anointed to preach good tidings to the meek, to bind up those who were brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to those held captive, and to open the doors for those who were bound by prison. So when we get to verse three we can get comfort from the fact that Jesus came to establish, fix or designate with authority those who mourn, those who express sorrow or those who grieve, but the key component is in Zion. In other words those who trust in God, but who still felt themselves mourning over something in their lives. When I was in that season of depression. I was a Christian, I had accepted Jesus into my heart and life as a teenager but still I went through depression. My point is that even though I was depressed because I was in Christ the promises of this verse applied to me. Since I was in Christ God promised to give me beauty for ashes. In other words that depression I went through was not in vain. Ashes is the remains of something destroyed: ruins. What is that thing in your life that you would consider your ashes. That thing in your life that you feel is destroyed beyond repair. It’s that thing in your life that you feel that there is no way for God to get the glory. Give it to God. Where we see ruins. God sees beauty! I didn’t see much beauty in my life back then. If I’m to be honest I still don’t always see the beauty of my life, but just because I don’t see it. Does not mean that it isn’t there! What I love about this passage of scripture. Is that it’s one of the many promises of God. It’s there to encourage us when we walk through those seasons of mourning, and we will walk through them. We just have the confidence that God is going to turn it around for our good!
The oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness.
This part of the scripture reminds me of the verse in Psalm 30:11 Thou hast turned for me my mourning into dancing: thou hast put off my sackcloth, and girded me with gladness. Do you get the power of this scripture. God desires to give us joy for that thing that caused us to mourn. Psalm 30 says thou hast put off my sackcloth. Sackcloth was a garment worn in the bible days when someone was in a period of mourning. It was a very rough, coarse fabric. It was something worn but it was heavy to bear. That’s what mourning is for us a burden that we carry that’s way too heavy for us to bear. Especially when we mourn longer than what God intended. Pay attention to this though in Psalm 30 it says thou hast put of my sackcloth in Isaiah 61 it says the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness. God will never take something off of us without replacing it with something better. He removes the sackcloth to replace it with a garment of praise. A garment is something that we wear. Which shows me that he will cause us to wear praise as though it was an article of clothing. In other words it will become of a second nature to us. Sometimes it can be hard to believe. That God can take that ugly scar filled thing and give us purpose out of it. While we see ashes God sees the purpose he put in us.
That they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he might be glorified.
Here’s why he does it. Why he gives us beauty for ashes, oil of joy for mourning. Why he gave us a garment of praise. So that we may become trees of righteousness. Righteousness is simply being in right standing with God, but when I think about a tree I think of something that has deep roots that spreads far underground. It’s planted its firm. Sometimes we think that the trial that we went through breaks us when in actuality it establishes our roots in God. The scripture says the planting of the Lord, that he might be glorified. Somewhere in our trials and suffering the Lord is planted. Something happens in the midst of our trials and test that causes us to lean on the Lord. It plants seeds of him in our lives. I remember during that season of depression in my life. I felt that I couldn’t go to anyone from church because they wouldn’t understand Christians weren’t supposed to get depressed. My friends got tired of my crying and wouldn’t answer my calls it was not only a season of depression but of loneliness and isolation, but it was also in that season that I leaned on God. When everyone else rejected me he opened his arms to me. The Lord planted himself in my life and in my heart. So now I glorify him with my life. God was able to take the ugly things in my life and turn it into something beautiful.
I don’t know the ashes in your life, but what I do know is that God wants to give you something beautiful for it. The thing about ashes from a human perspective is that it’s something that’s damaged beyond repair. It becomes unrecognizable. Sometimes our lives can seem that it’s damaged beyond repair. It’s unrecognizable even to us, but we serve a God who specializes in repairing the things that’s damaged giving you beauty for your ashes. My life is still far from perfect but one thing he’s showing me in this season of my life is that my ashes is all part of my God-given destiny. There’s still areas that I struggle in but I’m starting to trust that God will use it for my good and his glory!! My life and your life is just one big pile of beautiful ashes!