Beauty for Ashes

I am very blessed to be a part of a wonderful, life-giving church fellowship. Tonight was an unexpected reminder of so many blessings and of God”s great faithfulness. Today began with standing beside some very dear people in our life who were being challenged with a  difficult circumstance. It was what my husband would call a hard day, not necessarily a bad day, just a hard day for our friends. It was a day of struggles and victories, questions of which some went unanswered. At least for now, they are unanswered. We parted company for a short time and came together again to worship, pray and hear God”s Word.

It was during worship, I began to prayerfully go back over the day and consider the ways we had seen God’s fingerprints on this day. As I continued to reflect, a still small voice (not audible, no I’m not hearing voices) began to remind me of many instances of God’s faithfulness in our life over the past months. In just under 3 weeks, it will be the anniversary of our son- in- love’s accident which followed right on the edge of two of our grandchildren having a battle with ear infections for many months and culminating with each one having surgery for tubes. Both suffered some complications from long-term antibiotic use before surgery.

To fully understand what happened next would take much time to explain. Our daughter’s husband had an accident at work, falling 30 feet in a lift when the whole lift fell.  He suffered many broken ribs, a broken arm, sternum, pelvis, a back injury just to name part of the injuries. This required surgeries, a long hospital stay, in-patient and out-patient therapies both physical and occupational, frequent visits with a host of doctors and ministering to 3 children who missed their dad terribly. Did I mention our daughter was expecting their 4th child? You can imagine the worries and fears. Meanwhile, other immediate family member were struggling with health issues and dealing with an emergency surgery and a planned one.  I share all of this, not for sympathy or empathy but as I worshipped tonight, memories of these events and others flooded into my mind and I was overwhelmed with the goodness of God and how faithful He has been to our family!! It wasn’t easy, just like it was not easy for my friends today. But as I look back, I can see God’s hand all over these eighteen months. Could we have become overwhelmed, angry, given into the fears, been overtaken by what seemed for  to be insurmountable fears and worries? Oh, yes that would have been easy. Were we tempted? Honestly, yes at times. Did we? No. Just when one of us began down that road, the rest would come along and remind them of God’s love, mercy and grace.  We would recall past times of  His faithfulness and lift those struggling in prayer.

Deuteronomy 30: 14-16 says, ‘ But the message is very near you, in your mouth and in your heart, so that you may follow it. See, today I have set before you life and prosperity, death and adversity. For I am commanding you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in His ways, and to keep His commands, statutes, and ordinances, so that you may live and multiply, and the Lord your God may bless you in the land you are entering to possess.”

I have watched this year as many of our family and spiritual family have struggled with great adversity. We have cried together, laughed together, struggled together and rejoiced together. The greatest blessing has been watching people choose life, choose faith, choose to believe the best and rally around each other. It has been watching them overcome fear and doubt and walking in faith, grace, determination, strength that they never imagined they had. It has been such a blessing to watch as both our children’s families and a number of great friends have overcome huge hurdles and have walked away more than conquers because they trusted in a merciful, loving God who has been so faithful.  How appropriate to end the time of worship with the beautiful chorus, “There is none like you. No one else can touch my heart like you do. I could search for all eternity long and find there is none like You!” There is still healing to be had and things left as yet unsettled,questions to be answered, but this I know: He who has proved Himself faithful time after time will once again “make all things work together for our good.” All things are not good, but God is able to do exceeding, abundantly above and beyond anything we can think or imagine, and in the process grow us in strength, character, faith and love! The choice is ours, Choose Life!

Isaiah 61:1-3 The Spirit of the Lord  is on Me( speaking prophetically of Jesus), because the Lord has anointed Me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and freedom to the prisoners; to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor, and the day of our God’s vengeance; to comfort all who mourn, to provide for those who mourn in Zion; to give them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, festive oil instead of mourning, and splendid clothes instead of despair.  And they will be called righteous trees, planted by the Lord to glorify Him.

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