Beauty for our Ashes - Isaiah 61:3

Tuesday March 15

Beauty for Our Ashes - Isaiah 61:3 (NIV)

 "and provide for those who grieve in Zion – to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes”


When I was a child growing up on the Makah Indian Reservation in northwestern Washington State, there was a huge fire that engulfed an apartment complex and storage facility located next to the bay where local fishermen sold their catch.

A courageous local native man staying in the wooden building awoke in time to save himself, but then decided to go back into the, by then inferno, to see if everyone had managed to get out.

Unfortunately, he was overcome by the smoke and flames and died trying to save others. His loss was felt deeply by the community. I can remember its impact on me as I stood surveying the smoldering remains. There was nothing left of the building where this man had given his life to save others. Just ashes and smoldering ruins of what had been a huge building.

Life is so often like that. What once was a promise of better things is consumed by a tragic failure, like a marriage that ended badly or a dream never fulfilled. We all experience disappointments and hurts that leave us with the smoldering ashes of life instead of the beauty of what could have been. It has been that way since our first parents plunged themselves and all of us into sin.

But God our Father has seen our distressing circumstances and out of His love sent His Son into the burning building that is our world, paid the price for our rescue by having Him die on the cross on our behalf, and in that sense, bestowing upon us beauty for the ashes of our lives.

Yes, there is hope in Jesus. He can take our failures and disappointments, our sins of omission and commission and turn what has been evil or disappointing into beauty. It is what Jesus Himself experienced on the cross. It was horrific, it was dark and evil. But through the grace and power of God at work in His Son, God took what the devil intended for evil and turned it into the beauty of salvation, which God offers to all who would receive Jesus as Savior. Jesus offers us beauty for our ashes. Let us receive freely what He offers.

God our Father,
You sent Your Son, Jesus, the first-fruits of our salvation to rescue us from the flames that would forever destroy us. You turn our ashes into beauty. We give You thanks and praise for Your gracious love for us.
In Jesus’ Name, Amen.


Rev. Dr. Don Johnson (Makah) - Executive Director