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  • Writer's pictureKandi Swift

Out of the Ashes

"To comfort all who mourn, to console those who mourn in Zion, to give them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they may be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.” Isaiah 61:3

One of the things I am most grateful for in my walk with God, besides the gift of salvation and redemption, is His way of taking our broken places and creating something beautiful out of them. I don’t know about you, but I’ve been through some stuff. And in the going through, at times, it felt like I would never make it out. It felt lonely, hopeless and sometimes overwhelming. Some of that “stuff” I brought upon myself, some if it was done to me, and some of it was just a series of unfortunate events. No matter how it happened to come about, the feelings and emotions were still the same.

I was a single mother raising my children on my own for many years and did a lot of scrimping and scraping to get by. Several years ago, I applied for a position in another department within the company I worked for. It was a better paying position and in the same line of work I was already doing. Not only did I want this job, but I desperately needed it. To my disappointment, the person responsible for doing the hiring, and for whom I would have been working, (let’s just call her Nancy) decided to hire someone else outside of the company. This person ended up lasting only a few months and the position became available again. So, I reapplied. This time, Nancy called and told my boss she wanted to hire me but that she was going out of town and would finish the hiring process when she returned. While Nancy was gone, her boss decided to go around the process and hired someone else instead. Needless to say, I was devastated. I thought this job was my ticket and the answer to my prayers. I didn’t understand and felt so slighted. Not too much later, another position similar to the first one opened up. So, I applied for that one. Again, I was passed by. Eventually, I was hired for a lateral position within that department, making the same amount of money. It wasn’t really what I wanted, but at least my foot was in the door.

After all of the disappointment and heartbreak, here comes the beautiful part … I stayed in that job for about three years and was eventually hired to take my supervisor’s place when he retired. I needed every bit of those three years to learn everything necessary to take over his position. That promotion almost doubled my salary and, for the first time in my life, I didn’t have to count and pinch every penny to pay the bills. A situation that appeared to be a major letdown was actually a setup for something much greater.

The bible tells us that God gives us beauty for ashes. The hardest part of exchanging our ashes for His beauty, is the process of walking it out. That whole story was a span of about five years from start to finish. I felt rejected, and my difficult road of trying to make ends meet felt like it would never end. The piece of the story I didn’t tell you is that those two positions for which I wasn’t hired were eventually dissolved, and the employees were displaced. It seems like our journey would be so much easier if we just knew the whole story from the beginning, doesn’t it? If I knew that course would take five years to complete, I’m not sure I would have been so willing to walk through it. I may not have grown in faith or learned of His trustworthiness the way that I have, or come to understand how absolute and true His word is when it says my steps are ordered by Him. I love looking back and recalling each event that unfolded to reveal a story of God’s love, provision and faithfulness written just for me.


To get to the beauty, we must experience the ashes and remember the promise that He is working all things for our good.


Scriptures:

Isaiah 61:3 (NKJV) - “To [b]console those who mourn in Zion, to give them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they may be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.”

Romans 8:28 (NKJV) - “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.”

Philippians 1:6 (NKJV) - being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.”

 

Prayer

Lord, in this moment, I may not see where my steps are being ordered, but Your word tells me they ARE ordered. I choose to trust You in this promise, even when I don't see the complete picture or understand the circumstances that seem to be against me. You said You work all things together for my good, so even when it doesn't "look" good, I know and trust that You are working it for my good.

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