The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
because the Lord has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor
and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes,
the oil of joy instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor.
Years ago, when walking through the trenches of infertility, the idea for the name of this blog first came to mind. I honestly don’t remember exactly when it happened, but the phrase “beauty from ashes” firmly planted itself into my heart. It’s a beautiful concept from the Isaiah passage above. I think the words in this passage, particularly verse 3, really resonated with me during our infertility season because I had seen God take the ashes of my life and do something beautiful with them. In a season that was marked by tear-soaked prayers, doubts and disappointments, and grieving the unknown, God was taking the ashes of our infertility struggle and making something absolutely and unexpectedly beautiful out of them.
When logs are burned in a fire, what remains of the wood after the fire is extinguished? Ashes. Ashes are the result of the chemical process that happens when a fire consumes wood. Ashes can’t become wood again. They don’t look like wood, feel like wood, and you most certainly can’t build anything with them like you can with wood.
In many ways, the things we experience in our lives can consume us and burn us up. They can cause real damage to our hearts, our minds, and our souls, leaving us in ashes. We can never be the same again after walking through loss or any kind of life-changing event. The ashes remain, and we are left wondering what to do with them and how to move on. We’re different. We can’t go back. But what if the God of the universe wants to take these ashes and do something beautiful with them? What if God wants to take our hurts and our losses and change us and our lives into a masterpiece more beautiful than we could have ever imagined? I believe that God has given me many chances to see His Hands at work doing just that. Through infertility, fostering, adopting, losing our first biological baby, and many other experiences, I have seen God working and moving in a way that I never could have imagined. I trust that He is indeed giving me “a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.”
I write this blog as a way to share what God is showing me and revealing to me. Ashes really can turn into something beautiful when in the hands of a loving God. When we trust Him and seek Him, we get front-row seats to the masterpiece He is creating.
Pressing on in faith, Jennifer