Beauty for Ashes

I have this habit of randomly breaking out into song at any given moment. I think it’s an awesome habit but others, like my siblings, would disagree.

Any word spoken is likely to result in a musical outburst.

So, yes, of course when I saw this week’s Whole Mama prompt I broke out into song. Well, in my head anyway… my baby was sleeping.

He gives beauty for ashes, strength for tears, gladness for mourning…

If you haven’t heard of the song, “Beauty for Ashes” you can check out the lyrics here.

So, what does that mean anyway?

Beauty for Ashes?

This is where my Bible nerd comes out. I absolutely LOVE finding out the context of scripture.

Oh, did I mention this song is taken from Scripture?

Well, it is.

Isaiah 61:1-3 says:

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,[a]
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.

So, here’s what was happening: the people of Judah are living in exile in Babylon, due to their own rebellion.

In theological terms, exile is a place of pain and suffering.

This passage of Scripture is saying that God is going to, essentially, trade ashes for beauty for those who grieve in Zion.

Zion is often used interchangeably with the city of Jerusalem but Zion was actually where the temple was located. And the temple was where God’s presence was.

So, what’s up with the ashes?

Wearing ashes on one’s head was a sign of mourning. More specifically, a sign of mourning over one’s sins.


So, here are these people living in a place of pain, suffering and mourning… all because of their own sin and God sends His prophet to let them know, “hey, God is going to take all this pain, suffering and mourning and turn it into something beautiful.”

For those who grieve in Zion, the place where God is.

Basically, for those who take their mourning to God.

I know that most of us are aware that God can take something painful and turn it into something beautiful. But are we aware, truly aware, that he can take the pain of our own sin and turn that into something beautiful?

And, I’m not talking about our sins before we knew the Lord. This passage of Scripture is talking to God’s people. God’s people who rebelled… who sinned.

Even when we know God, we make “mistakes” (SIN). Even after we know God, we are still in need of His salvation.

We are still in need of beauty for ashes.

All we have to do is take the grief of our sin to Him… mourn in Zion.

Mourn where God is and He will take the ashes of your mourning and give you beauty. 

This is part of the Whole Mama challenge. To read more on “beauty” click here.

24 thoughts on “Beauty for Ashes

  1. Gayl August 21, 2015 / 9:15 pm

    What a beautiful reminder that God can and does take our sins away and give us something beautiful in return! Glad you joined #wholemama! Blessings to you!

    • Inez Bayardo August 21, 2015 / 10:22 pm

      I’m so glad He does! Thanks for reading. 🙂

  2. Katie @ Stress and Stars August 21, 2015 / 10:10 pm

    Beautiful. One of the things I love about #wholemama is how much it’s encouraging me to read Bible verses more regularly again.

    • Inez Bayardo August 21, 2015 / 10:25 pm

      That’s awesome, Katie!! I’m glad you’re a part of #wholemama. I’ve been lagging the past few weeks but I really have loved it. 🙂 Thanks for reading!!

  3. Amelia Richardson Dress August 21, 2015 / 10:24 pm

    Many, many years ago I saw a second hand store named “Beauty for Ashes” and took the same biblical journey to figure out the reference. I love the mystery of the promise that all things will be transformed. Not just erased but actually *transformed.* Amazing stuff! Thanks for writing!

    • Inez Bayardo August 21, 2015 / 10:27 pm

      Yes, it truly is amazing… He STILL forgives us and transforms us. It’s not a one time deal. Thank God!

  4. Amanda Cleary Eastep August 26, 2015 / 12:40 pm

    This verse came to my mind when I heard the theme, and you’ve done a lovely job of taking us through it. What an exchange…beauty for ashes, salvation through sacrifice. Encouraging post!

    • Inez Bayardo August 26, 2015 / 6:37 pm

      Yes, it is a truly AWEsome exchange. Thanks for reading!

  5. Valerie January 8, 2016 / 7:14 am

    I love this post! What an incredible scripture too. Thank you for breaking it down, it really helped to understand the meaning. I break out into song too. In fact, when my kids have friends over I overheard my 8-year-old ask, “Does your mom always sing too?”. I don’t keep a tune very well, so they think it’s funny. So glad that with the Lord we can wear a garment of praise.

    • inezbayardo January 8, 2016 / 9:43 pm

      Thank you, Valerie! The Bible says to make a joyful “noise”. haha.

  6. Jennifer DeFrates/Heaven Not Harvard January 8, 2016 / 11:22 am

    It is a lovely metaphor for how God exchanges our sin for His righteousness. I had read that before, but I didn’t take time to dwell there. Thank you for sharing this with me. I need to remember to take time to mourn my failures, but let God hand me beauty for my ashes.

    • inezbayardo January 8, 2016 / 9:43 pm

      Amen! I need to remember this, too. Thanks so much for reading, Jennifer.

  7. Natalie January 8, 2016 / 2:21 pm

    Haha! My kids constantly complain that I burst into song every time someone says ANYTHING. The cross is the only place we can take our griefs and our burdens and actually leave them there. And on top of that, He sends us away with a crown of beauty. It’s incomprehensible!

    • inezbayardo January 8, 2016 / 9:45 pm

      That is so true, Natalie. It really is incomprehensible for our human ways of thinking. It’s seriously amazing.

  8. Marissa January 8, 2016 / 2:33 pm

    Beautifully said! My husband and I often joke while watching movies with the kids, how great the world would be if people would just break out into song… think Enchanted… 😉

    • inezbayardo January 8, 2016 / 9:26 pm

      Yes!! I totally agree!! That would be AMAZING. 🙂

  9. Lauren January 8, 2016 / 3:59 pm

    He definitely makes all things beautiful in His time. Beauty for ashes makes me think of this song:

  10. inezbayardo January 8, 2016 / 9:45 pm

    Beautiful song. Thanks for sharing!

  11. Jonathan Key January 9, 2016 / 2:07 pm

    Beauty for ashes, strength for fear… Gladness for mourning. Peace for despair. I was once was lost bug God has found me. I once was blind but now I’m free.

    This is such a timely reminder. I’m not going to lie this last year has been very challenging for us. When sorrow is around it’s a great reminder that God is with us. He will lift us up with His righteous hand. He knows our need and will help us overcome. We are victorious through Jesus Christ! This is such a great post and reminder.

    • inezbayardo January 10, 2016 / 10:21 pm

      Yes, it is a great reminder! He really is good to us. 🙂 Thanks for reading!

  12. brianna January 10, 2016 / 1:48 pm

    Such a beautiful song. 🙂 I love when there is a reminder of his love for us put to music. It really affects me. 🙂

    • inezbayardo January 10, 2016 / 10:19 pm

      Me too! Music really speaks to me. 🙂

  13. Tara January 11, 2016 / 8:35 am

    I also burst out into song. I love finding the scriptures that songs are based on. I write a little music note beside them in my Bible when I find them. The concept of ashes showing morning has always fascinated me. They really took their sin seriously.

    • inezbayardo January 11, 2016 / 9:46 am

      I love that idea of putting a musical note by the scriptures! Thanks for reading. 🙂

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