It seemed like God had abandoned me. My first husband died, my two adult children moved away, the people at my job made decisions without me. There was no a place I fit in even in a small group at my church. It felt like I was surrounded by ashes of loss. It was messy.
God’s specialty is rearranging the ashes of our disappointments, despair, and dismay into something beautiful. He takes our mess and changes it into His message. It’s remarkable, exciting and something only God can do.
The best historical illustration of this spiritual truth happened in 1988 in the Yellowstone National Monument. It was the most devastating wildfire in the history of the national park system. It burned uncontrollably for five months: from early June through the first snow in November. In early June, flames wiped out 1.2 million acres—about 36% of the park’s more than 2 million acres. The fire was finally put out in November. As the damage was tallied, the losses financially could not be recovered. Yet God allowed the loss to illustrate so we could see He was up to something bigger and better than we could imagine.
In the same way, all of us have experienced ashes of some type of loss:
- Domestic Violence
God has a plan to rebuild the ashes of our losses. He will restore, rebuild, and regenerate our lives. To let God rebuild our ashes into something beautiful, we must cooperate with Him. This requires a decision from us: We must make the choice to let go of our losses and trust Him with the results.
Years after the Yellowstone wildfire wiped everything out, the sequoia trees actually increased in productivity. On an environmental note, it is necessary to clear out the dead wood and excess brush to encourage new growth. After the fires, the forest was more open and more light reached the forest floor. Where the fire had been hottest was an ideal seedbed for the young giant sequoia seedlings. The heat of the fire causes giant sequoia cones to open and thousands of seeds are released and fall to the soil. In the Yellowstone National Park, it’s amazing to behold as Lodge pole pines now fill about 80% of the park’s extensive forests. What had been considered to be a “natural catastrophe” was restored and regenerated into a lush forest, which has come back thicker and healthier than before it was burned.
God has a plan for the ashes of our losses. With our cooperation, He will take the ashes of our losses and use them as fertilizer to make us more spiritually healthy than ever! He will restore, rebuild, and regenerate our life. Isaiah 61:3 reminds us, “To bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor.”
Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for taking our ashes and changing them into something beautiful. We choose to cooperate with you, Lord, as we let go of our losses so you can rearrange them into something that gives you glory. In Jesus’ name, amen.