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June 2017 Newsletter

An ongoing series of informational entries

He Makes Beauty for Ashes

By Laurie Nichols

June 1, 2017

I know that my redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand on the earth. – Job 19:25

Next month marks the anniversary of the death of a sweet, courageous, and strong gal we met during outreach. Trisha’s life left a mark on me that will last my lifetime. Her last days on earth, though filled with pain, were ones solidly grounded in the hope of new life. “I think He might be calling me home,” she said to me just three days prior.

This month marks the anniversary of the death of Leona, another courageous woman who New Name has walked alongside for years. Like Trisha, her hopes were solidly grounded in the promises of Jesus. As many of us wept tears of lament over the pain Leona suffered that led to death, the sweet promises of God nevertheless course mightily through us: beauty for ashes, strength for fear. Isaiah 61:3 reads,

…and provide for those who grieve in Zion—to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair…

In this type of ministry, often it may seem as though the enemy is winning or has won. Let’s be honest, in life, it often seems as though he has the upper hand. And then I remember the imagery I always teach my children: “Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, or with the breadth of his hand marked off the heavens? Who has held the dust of the earth in a basket, or weighed the mountains on the scales and the hills in a balance?” (Isa. 40:12).

God is the one who holds the world, and all of creation, in His hand. When we push back the curtain that tells us the enemy has won, we see that we have been tempted to be deceived. God makes beauty for ashes. The veil of evil and sin and pain is lifted to reveal a plan that allows the lily to grow in the ashes. And the sun rises another day.

Let me encourage you, friends. When the darkness seems to swallow you whole, lift up your eyes. Like Job, we can indeed say, “I know that my redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand on the earth” (Job 19:25).

Although both Trisha and Leona have passed into the presence of our God, keep praying for the lilies to grow. Each night, my 5-year-old prays that both Trisha and Leona’s families will come to know Jesus. God does make beauty for ashes. He wants to. He will. This is the God we love.