…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)
Isaiah 61 contains the manifesto of the Messiah. In Luke 4:16-22 Jesus stood up in the synagogue in Nazareth and spoke about the ministry God had given Him. He quoted from Isaiah 61, relating how God had anointed Him, and telling what that anointing was to accomplish. Verse 3 speaks of how God wants to bless your life with beauty, joy and praise. Look at the contrast: ashes, mourning, the spirit of despair – beauty, the oil of joy, the garment of praise.
The Bible says that He will give us beauty for ashes. In Bible times it was the custom for the people of that day in great times of difficulty to lie in ashes. For example, if you had a problem in your life, you would sit down in a pile of ashes. When we think about ashes, we think about the remains after a fire has gone out. Ashes are nothing more than the remains of something that once was. Ashes may represent your life if you are grieving your past; grieving past relationships; grieving past memories, grieving past moments of blessing and are dreaming of ‘what used to be’! But watch this! The Hebrew word for ashes is epher and the Hebrew word for beauty is pheer. Just move the e and you have a new word. Just as quickly as it takes for you to move one letter, God can turn around your circumstances. God can transform your trying situation. God is ready to show Himself strong on your behalf in the midst of hopeless situations.
You may be burnt by life’s experiences, but God can “restore … the years … the locust hath eaten”.
He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap. Psalm 113:7 (ESV)
The world spends billions of pounds each year trying to look more beautiful, but God gives us a beauty that cannot be bought, a radiance, a glow for those who know Him.