August 8, 2022

Beauty for Ashes

Key Verse to Read and Treasure

So Satan went out from the presence of the LORD and struck Job with loathsome sores from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head. And he took a piece of broken pottery with which to scape himself while he sat in the ashes. (Job 2:7-8, ESV)

For Insight

What are “Dismay, “Soul wounds, “Ashes and Sackcloth, “Crushed spirits”? If we were playing a round of Jeopardy our answer would be, “Things that are wrapped in sorrow; things that describe a broken or disappointed heart.”

Jobs losses were almost too much for him to bear. I don’t know many people who could stand up under three great losses to the magnitude Job experienced and still hold onto their sanity. After losing his property, riches, children, and his health, and just when things looked like they couldn’t get any worse, his wife questions his devotion to a God who doesn’t appear to be devoted to him leaving him to grieve alone in the ashes. It’s not surprising Job takes up residence in an ash heap where he scraps his sores with pieces of broken pottery.

Putting ashes on one’s head, dressing in itchy burlap (sackcloth) or sitting in a pile of ashes—like Job did—was not uncommon during Old Testament times. Whenever someone’s heart was deeply sorrowed, or they were observing a time of repentance before God, it was common to see such a display of godly sorrow.      

In Isaiah 61 the prophet writes about the “Year of God’s Favor.” This was a welcomed and comforting prophecy for God’s suffering people. They had been through the wringer. God does not throw in their faces it was their own disobedience that got them where they were: in need of deliverance, restoration, and mercy, but chooses instead to give them a message they needed to hear so they could stay encouraged and be reminded of their God’s unconditional love and attachment to them. God didn’t accuse his people just like he didn’t accuse Job and does not accuse us in our times of sorrow.

Every good parent knows there are times to tell their children “I told you so…” and there are times that same parent knows the most loving thing they can do is to tell their child how much they love them and are there for them. Extending their open arms to invite that child in no matter how badly they have messed up or made a mess of life or life has messed with them. A connected and intuitive parent knows that people sitting in an ash heap don’t need more ashes poured over their head but what they need most is love, understanding and the promise to help them restore. Taking their ashes and make something beautiful from it.                       

Praying Isaiah 61:3

Lord, how often we are like Job sitting by the ash heap, or like many others in the Bible who wore ashes and sackcloth as a sign of repentance. Today, at times, our hearts can be heavy or sorrowed, so thank you for reminding us if we trust in You and wait on You, You will take our ashes and give us beauty in their place. Amen.      

Prayer Challenge

Trust God to turn your sorrow into a crown of beauty.  

Digging Deeper

Read Isaiah 58:5

Read Isaiah 61:3

Read Jonah 3:6

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