Exchanging Beauty For Ashes

Exchanging Beauty for Ashes

Exchanging Beauty For Ashes

 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

Dear Family & Friends,

Difficulties come to all, but God has a purpose for everything. He can exchange beauty for ashes. 

Making Soap

This past weekend while visiting John-Keith and Naomi I shared my recent interest in learning how to make soap with them. In the course of the conversation, John-Keith informed me that lye, which is a main ingredient in soap, is made from the ashes of a hardwood tree. You boil the ashes in rainwater for about a half hour and after they settle on the bottom, you skim off the liquid lye at the top. Then you use this substance to begin the process of soap making.

I thought about this conversation while lying in bed the next morning and it struck me how strange it is that dirty, seemingly useless ashes could be used to create a substance that brings cleansing and health. But it’s true. You just have to put the ingredients through a process.

Difficult Experiences

I ticked off a number of difficult experiences we can go through in life. Some of these are the results of bad decisions or mistakes we’ve made ourselves. Other times these trials stem from uncontrollable circumstances, or originate from other peoples’ problems making their problems ours. Either way the result is the same. We endure crises that make life difficult or that may even burn our hopes and dreams into a big pile of ashes. We are left wondering if we’ll ever be able to flourish and enjoy life again. 

Yet God promises in His word that He can exchange beauty for ashes. Just as a somewhat dangerous substance created from the remains of a hardwood tree can be put through a chemical process to create a bar of cleansing and useful soap, so God puts us through cleansing processes as we experience trials. 

Consider Trials Pure Joy

James 1:2-4 says, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”

God takes the ashes of our lives and uses them to develop godly character in us if we let Him. When we’ve made a mistake He provides forgiveness and the opportunity to ask for help so we can move forward with new vision and better decision making skills. If our ashes resulted from the decisions of others, He empowers us to show forgiveness that leads to our freedom from bitterness and anger. When the difficulties seem random and uncontrollable He teaches us to trust Him for the present and the future. 

Becoming More Like Jesus

Little by little, as we allow Him to work the process in our lives we become more like Him.  

After all, we are not the only ones who walk the road of ashes. Jesus Himself learned obedience by the trials He suffered. Hebrews 5:8-9 says, Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from what He suffered. And having been made perfect, He became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey Him .” 

Just as in soap making, our faith’s testing can produce something good. If we allow God to work the process, perseverance and maturity will be the result. Soon evidence of the beauty of Christ in our attitude and character will shine through. 

Beauty For Ashes

Maybe you are sitting in a pile of broken dreams and hopes right now. Count it all joy and trust God to use the trials to bring cleansing and health. He has a perfect purpose for your life and has the power to exchange beauty for ashes. 



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Hi, I'm Sandy! 

I write inspirational letters based on the Bible that share words of hope, encouragement, truth, and healing to my children and anyone else who longs for a mama's touch.


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