Life is made up of so many moments of joy: weddings, babies, promotions … things that we post on Facebook and Instagram as a highlight reel. Times where we are smiling, look perfect and put together. The times that we want people to see us and think that we have it all, and we might even feel like we do. In these times we are full of hope for the future.
Unfortunately, those moments are just that — moments. Then there are the other moments, the times where we would rather hide from the world. The times that we feel heartbroken and alone. Times of mourning and feeling hopeless. As we are experiencing this Easter season I can’t help but think of Jesus and his example for us. Thinking of his mother and his followers and what they experienced during this time. Things had to have felt hopeless. Jesus was their hope, and here they were watching him die this horrible death. It would appear that the story ended here. It was time to mourn.
Jesus had warned his followers that this was going to happen, but I don’t think that they completely understood and realized what he meant. Their hopes had been dashed. The person they followed had let them down. They were hurt, confused, desperate, mourning and in despair. In the Old Testament when people mourned they put ashes on their heads. They would sit in dust and put on sackcloth to show outwardly their inner struggle and pain. I don’t know if they still did this in New Testament times, but If ever they were in a season to have sackcloth and ashes, this was it.
The last 12 months have been this way for many. We are hurting as we have dealt with things unlike any we have in our generation. We have lost people we loved, many have been let down by people they “followed” who had moral failures. So much pain and despair. It is easy to want to just plop down and resign ourselves to the ashes and sackcloth. We may feel that we are in those days that Jesus followers were in after he was crucified. Here is the thing- that was a moment in time. Jesus was crucified and buried and for three days all hope seemed lost.
But God! Hopelessness was turned to hope. Mourning was turned to joy. God’s plan was starting to make sense! It didn’t seem that way at first. I am sure they wondered what God was doing. How could they continue to have hope in what appeared to be such dark days?
One thing we can see in this story is that God has an amazing way of turning what seems impossible into something possible. He can take whatever is hopeless and worthless and turn it into something that is full of hope and value. We know how this story ended. Jesus did not remain in the grave; instead, he rose out of that very grave so that we might have new life. It is the biggest plot twist of all time. God took something horrible and turned it into something wonderful.
“To all who mourn in Israel, he will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair. In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks that the Lord has planted for his own glory.” Isaiah 61:3
God wants to do that in our lives too. I don’t know what situation you are going through. I don’t know how this last year has affected you. But I do know that God wants to bring beauty from the ashes of what you are going through. He wants to be able to turn the suffering and weeping you have felt into times of praise and hope.
How does he do this?
He wants to bring you closer to him, even if life isn’t making sense. He wants to make sure you are planted like a great oak, one with deep roots that is nourished and fed by Him. Allow him to be your joy as you praise him, even when you are going through those dark days. Allow him to give you a crown of beauty for ashes, blessing for your mourning, and praise instead of your despair.
Jennifer Wennekamp is an author, speaker, women’s pastor, and elementary teacher who lives with her husband in Mississippi. She is the mother of two amazing adult children. Jennifer’s passion is to help women to find hope and be encouraged knowing that through Christ they are valued, loved, and have a purpose. Jennifer is also the author of Fear Not: Untying the Knot of Fear, available on Amazon.com.
We thank you, Jennifer, for contributing to this month’s publication of Titus-two.com, talking about “Joy In Difficult Seasons”
You are loved to Heaven and Back, Jennifer ~~
LindaRJohnson, TitusTwo Visionary