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]
2 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor
and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
3 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.