Beauty from ashes, mourning turned to joy, the burden of heaviness transformed into a garment of praise.
These are the promises God makes to His people in Isaiah 61, and they are woven throughout Scripture.
While Isaiah speaks these words prophetically in the Old Testament, Jesus fulfills them many centuries later when he quotes the prophet in a Jewish synagogue, saying in Luke 4:18, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me. Because He has anointed me to preach the good news to the poor; He has sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind, to set free those who are oppressed, to proclaim the favorable year of the Lord.”
These are not small promises. The God of the Bible is clearly a miracle-working God.
From the Old Testament to the New, God turns water into wine, raises dry bones back to life, heals the sick, forgives the unforgivable.
So what do we make of all this today? In a world filled with such depravity, such despair, is it possible that God’s promise in Scripture to make beauty from ashes is still true?
And what are we to believe when tragedy strikes us personally, when something, or someone we love is ripped from our grasp? As the ability to breathe becomes almost impossible, the ashes of circumstance seem to make God’s promise only empty words.
How do we cling to the promise of hope and believe in what God whispers to our hearts above what our eyes see?
These are the questions I have asked myself throughout the past year. Every day felt monotonous — I read stories of grief and witnessed people around me carry heavy burdens of restlessness and uncertainty about the future. I mourned cancelled plans and constantly missed loved ones who were far from me. I sat uncomfortably in my own brokenness.
“Come to Me,” Jesus beckons in Matthew 11:28, “All you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”
Yes, rest. That is what the whole world longs for. A peace that surpasses all understanding. A knowledge that the trials of this life will be rectified in eternity. A sureness in the promise that beauty will be made from the ashes of our brokenness.
When I first considered what I wanted this magazine to be about — what stories I believed our community needed to hear, I remembered the Scripture I kept coming back to in months past. The same one from Isaiah 61:3, which spoke a radical word of hope in a devastating situation.
“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.”
The promise God makes to us is not that there won’t be ashes, but that He will salvage the wreckage and transform it into something beautiful in His time and for His glory. He will give us joy in our mourning and the ability to praise in seasons of heaviness. He will do these things because He promised.
I invite you to journey through the pages of this magazine — stories of faith, struggle, triumph, defeat, devastation, loss, questioning, love, meaning, joy, healing and forgiveness.
See for yourself how those in the Pepperdine and Malibu communities have experienced the fulfillment of God’s promise to make beauty from ashes.
Email Lindsey Sullivan: Lindsey.firstname.lastname@example.org
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