We are only in the second month of the New Year and unfortunately there have been a lot of deaths and losses recently. Understandably, many are finding it hard to have hope in true happiness; many are finding it hard to see the light past darkness; many are finding it hard to believe that one day, they will be truly healed from devastation and heartbreak. Whether you have recently lost a loved one or are still hurt from the loss of someone from a long time ago, I hope together we can unlock, understand and believe in the promises of restoration and healing, embedded within the word of God…
3To 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; …”
~Isaiah 61:3, NKJV~
3To console those who mourn in Zion, To give them beauty for ashes,
When we think of ashes, we think of dry, dull and grey fragments – a reminder that, that person has definitely gone – but I reckon ashes here can also refer to old memories, pictures and messages. I can only imagine the constant and painful reminder one experiences when they see the ashes urn (should they choose to keep it in the house), old pictures, reflect back on memories or read old messages, and despite the tears one drowns themselves in, the urn, the pictures, the messages are probably the only way one will ever feel close to them, just one last time, everytime. For those who hold onto these ashes in sorrow, wishing for the person to be alive, God is trading in those grey ashes for beauty: What is beauty? Beauty is life, it is everlasting, it is transformation, it is pleasing, it is strength, it is confidence, it is good. If God will give us beauty for our ashes, essentially, he is replacing painful reminders with pleasing memories. As we hold onto beauty instead of ashes, we will not mourn in pain but instead we will praise with thanks for the life our lost one once lived.
The oil of joy for mourning,
There is never a timescale on how long one should grieve but because of this, implications may be that one could possibly experience sadness for the rest of their life, especially if they are not mentally strong enough or well supported. When God is promising the oil of joy do you know what means? Think of it like this, oil (and any similar substances) is so hard to get rid of with just plain water; water and oil do not mix – ultimately, painful tears and great joy, will not mix. Unless removed with a detergent or mixed with an emulsifier, oil will pretty much stick around and stain. But God does not say “to give oil and soap”, He will give the oil of joy. (Notice the is in bold – God is the ultimate source of everlasting joy, if we get it from Him, it will not depart from us unless we reject it). That means, His joy will stick onto us, take over us and our tears will be separated from us – we will have every reason to rejoice instead. Also, oil spreads easily; His joy will touch every part of our life that was hurting and in need of recovery.
The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness
True praise is done in advance, it is even done during bad times and it should be done even when we think we have no reason to praise. During our time of mourning, it is hard to uplift and thank God for His work because the anchor of pain weighs us down. That is why God promises to give us the garment of praise – He understands our pain (after all, He gave us His only and holy Son who died on the cross). He will cover us with worship so that we will see well in all bad and not drown ourselves in thoughts of despair and discouragement. When people look at us, they will be astonished at how we can still have energy to give thanks but once we do it on the outside, we will feel good on the inside. Just like how when we wear a nice outfit and receive a compliment, we feel good about ourselves; the same with being clothed with the garment of praise and God lifting off the heavy burden of pain so we feel free within us to praise Him.
My condolences to all who read this and have recently lost a loved one or are still mourning; our true healer is God who will restore all lost happiness, hope and encouragement. Remember to remain in prayer and praise, because it will not be through your own strength alone, that you’ll get through this moment of darkness but that’s just it, you do not need to suffer in silence or alone, God promises to heal you.