I heard a song this morning that reminded me of this beautiful passage (another one of my life verses). Grief, mourning, and heaviness are weights that we can carry, but there is a beautiful exchange our Savior offers to us all. In exchange for the ashes of life, He gives us a crown of beauty. For mourning and grief, He gives us His joy. For our sorrow, heaviness, and sadness He wraps us in a garment of praise (oh that garment of praise!). And then we will be like trees that stand firm in a storm. And not just stand firm, but stand for righteousness because we have been planted by the Lord and we stand in His glory. Are you standing in what seems to be the ashes of a life gone up in flames? Are you consumed by grief? Is depression pulling you down into a bottomless pit? Well, there is a Savior who offers us a great exchange. Our broken, useless, shattered pieces for His wholeness, love, and beauty.
“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
I’m standing on this entire Psalm that begins with one of my favorite passages: “God is our refuge and strength,
A very present help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1). The psalmist goes on to tell how he thwarts fear by trusting in God who is our refuge. The 10th verse, however, is a departure from the psalmist writing in the third person to God Himself giving us a directive. He says “be still.” In this passage be still literally means “to sink”, “to relax, or drop”. It is a wake up call to stop striving in your own efforts to fix a problem you cannot fix. He also says “know that I am God.” In the face of your problem, acknowledge who your God is! He is the Conqueror who is mighty to save! He is the Great Physician who is able to heal. He is the Strong Deliverer who can set us free. He is the One we run to; the only refuge that is sure and constant. This call was to the nations, and it is still for us today. Plan ahead, be careful, use precautions, please. But in the inward man, that place where you struggle with fear, anxiety, and unrest, be still. Sink! And acknowledge your God. He is your refuge and strength.
Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth! Psalm 46:10