Fire has a way of destroying everything in its path. Think about the fierce forest fires that swept through California. Acres of trees destroyed with nothing left behind except ashes–ashes that serve to remind us of the beauty that was once there. Whenever a fire strikes, you can be sure that something will die and only its ashes will remain.
In our lives, we too, face many fires. Fires that hurt, damage and destroy–the loss of a job, family feuds, the death of a loved one, divorce, these are all examples but the list is endless. Some fires are small and contained while others are large and rage out of control. No matter the size of the flame, the ashes leave a lasting impression. Ashes remind us of the ugliness and brokenness that remain in our lives.
In Bible days, ashes were a symbol of mourning, usually as a result of death or crisis. People put ashes on their heads to express deep sorrow and grief. The physical ashes that were placed on their heads can be likened to the emotional ashes we keep pressed deep down inside. The former was there to represent mourning and sorrow that stemmed from a death or an unbearable amount of grief. The latter remains after a fire has come through, broken and destroyed us. Too often we lay paralyzed under the layers of enduring ashes.
But we have a God who specializes in taking what is broken and ugly and making it beautiful. Isaiah 61:3 says, “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.” The ashes on the heads of those who mourn are replaced by a crown of beauty. What a promise to hold on to!
I am so thankful for the fires that burn in our lives. Without the fires, there would be no ashes. Without the ashes of brokenness there would be no exchange for the beauty God is waiting to reveal in us. We may not be able to see beyond the messiness of the ashes in our lives, But He sees beyond all the ashes that cover us and focuses on our true beauty.
So consider it joy when you are faced with all kinds of trials and when flames strike. Remember that it is in these times of testing, these fires, that your faith is increased and patience is produced. Let this patience producing faith have its way so that you may be perfect, complete and lack nothing. You are blessed when you endure these fires. You will be approved and you will receive the crown of life which our Father in heaven has promised to all who love Him.
What an amazing promise to receive; His beauty for our ashes.