Monday, July 16, 2012

Beauty for Ashes

There was a time that I thought my life was nothing but a pile of ashes. I had come so far in depression, oppression, and intimidation, that I truly think there was anything left but the ashes of my despair. Has your life come down to that, too? Let me encourage you today; God wants to give you beauty for your ashes. He does! He wants to turn your ashes into something beautiful. For all the years you've suffered intimidation from others. For all the years you've suffered depression as the result of the oppression pressing you down into the pit of darkness that surrounded you. God can take you out of it and turn your life into the beautiful thing it was meant to be!

"The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me, Because the Lord has anointed Me to preach good tidings to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives.......To give them beauty for ashes..." ~Isaiah 61:1-3(a) (emphasis mine)

You are meant for so much more than what you've been allowed to believe of yourself. I don't care who told you that you couldn't do something. God says that you CAN! Want to know how I know this? Because I've been there. I've been sitting in the dark pit of ashes that my life was becoming. I have suffered oppression. I have suffered depression, manipulation, intimidation. I can't tell you enough how many women there have been, who have come in and out of my life, who have been this way to me. I always endured it. Because I was raised that you did not dispute what someone else says to you. But what I wasn't told was that not everyone is right.

I didn't know about the love of Jesus. I had no idea that He wasn't some kind of dictator, on His throne, waiting to "ZAP" me with a great punishment for the bad stuff I've done. Suffering and punishment come in various forms, yes. But just because someone is going through a bad spot, doesn't mean that God is punishing them. Sometimes it's a test of their faith. Sometimes it's an attack of the enemy. Sometimes it's both. What did Job do to deserve all that he went through? Nothing. His faith was being tested. He wasn't being punished. And God ultimately restored him. But my point is that many times people want to focus on the bad stuff and subsequently blame God for their bad lot in life. They want to believe that God is ultimately going to punish them for their sins...even if they've been forgiven.

"I'm just waiting for my punishment," they may say. Well, okay you go right ahead and wait. But I'm going to rejoice in the love and forgiveness of the Lord. People who have lived a life of constantly being intimidated by others who believe they have the right answers, will know what I mean here. God is a fair God. He's just. He's also jealous, and His wrath is something that I don't want to endure. But God's wrath IS coming... for those who never accept Him and never turn from the bad stuff they do.

"If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land." ~2 Chronicles 7:14

I didn't enjoy suffering depression, anxiety and panic attacks. I also didn't enjoy always feeling like everything was my fault and I was always to blame for everyone elses problems. I suffered. Plain and simple. Job suffered so long that he began to question. Have you done the same thing? Have you suffered something that is controlling your life for so long that you're beginning to wonder if God even cares about you? I've done that. I truly thought that God hated me and was going to "zap" me with cancer, just like my mother had, and kill me off! Now THAT is a sad mentality. This is how the enemy tricked me and caused me to believe his lies. I became so afraid of God that I literally thought that He had left me. So one day, He showed me just how that would feel.

I believe that God pulled back just enough to allow me to feel what my life would be like without Him. I have known Him for so long that I just didn't realize that He was there. When He pulled back, the devastation, loneliness, despair, and hopelessness that overcame me was so overwhelming, it literally caused me to cry out for Him. "God! Where are you?! Please don't leave me!" Instantly, those bad feelings disappeared, replaced with peace, comfort, and love. God had been holding me, just like when your kids were small and they would cry for you in the dark. You were there the whole time, but they didn't know it until you touched them.

It took about four years to come out of that mess. But it took another couple of years before we found a church where we could learn and grow...and where Jesus could get a hold of me. That's when God said, "It's time for a complete healing." That's when He did "Spiritual Surgery" on me and healed me of every bit of that mess.

Not everyone's story is going to be like mine. But there are people out there who are suffering needlessly because someone, somewhere told them that God was punishing them. Those are not God's plans for you at all. He has good plans for you and they don't include all. So why not let Him give you beauty for your ashes today?

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you," declares the Lord, "and will bring you back from captivity..." Jeremiah 29:11-14(a) (emphasis mine)

If you have prayer concerns, I would be honored to pray for you. Email me your prayer requests. Click the mailbox in the right column.


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