"and provide for those who grieve in Zion-- to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes..." (Isaiah 61:3)
During this season many of us have been remembering the tragic time of the Holocaust - a time that devastated our people, inflicted a bitter mark upon history and left many of us scarred. A time when evil seemed to prevail and death was around every corner.
Despite the atrocious tragedy of the Holocaust, God took our mourning and turned it into joy through the re-birth of the State of Israel on 4 May 1948. He used something that was meant for harm and birthed new life out of it.
A seemingly hopeless situation that felt like the end was the beginning of a home-land for the Jewish people and the return of their rightful place in the Promised Land. Today Israel celebrates 70 years! What an amazing miracle!
Photo taken at the Yom Ha'atzmaut celebration in Edmonton, Alberta.
"Instead of your shame you will receive a double portion, and instead of disgrace you will rejoice in your inheritance. And so you will inherit a double portion in your land, and everlasting joy will be yours." (Isaiah 61:7)
PHOTO: BY LIAT NESHER - OLD CITY, JERUSALEM.
God in his loving kindness and mercy brought our people out of their shame, their disgrace, the unfair treatment and injustice of the persecution endured during the Holocaust and gave us a home. It's difficult to face the events of the Holocaust and still view God as a loving, fair heavenly father without any doubts or questions. It's in that space we need to turn to the bible and remind ourselves of the truth of the word of God. We can't depend on our own logic or reason to understand the world's tragedies but depend on what we know to be true.
“For I, the Lord, love justice; I hate robbery and wrongdoing. In my faithfulness I will reward my people and make an everlasting covenant with them." (Isaiah 61:8) We see in scripture that God is a God of justice. He hates wrong doing. He grieves when his children are persecuted and robbed of their life, their freedom and their expression of faith. This world is constantly at a battle between darkness and light. Life and death. We can open the door to the enemy through our sin and brokenness but God loves us too much to allow his anger to last. He loves us too much for the enemy to reign in our lives. He is faithful to fulfill his promises in our lives.
"Their descendants will be known among the nations and their offspring among the peoples. All who see them will acknowledge that they are a people the Lord has blessed.” (Isaiah 61:9)
"They will rebuild the ancient ruin and restore the places long devastated; they will renew the ruined cities, that have been devastated for generations." (Ezekiel 36) I believe that's exactly what God did when he returned our people to Israel out of the ashes of the Holocaust he breathed new life, hope and restoration.
You may be like me, in a circumstance that feels like the death of something in your life. But it's in those places God reaches down and reminds us "it's not the end, I'm going to breathe new life into this devastation and spring up a new thing, this is only the beginning."
After the Holocaust they were wounded, hurt, traumatized, and grieving the loss of friends, family and dreams that were shattered by war. Somehow out of that place the Jewish people found the strength in God to rise up and dig their heels in to rebuild the cities of Israel and claim their home. It's incredible to see all the cities, buildings and houses scattered among the mountains of Judea and I remain awestruck at God's amazing power to miraculously rebuild the brokenness of our lives and give us a new beginning.
I just want to encourage you that if you're going through something in your life and it feels like the end just know that God can turn any situation, no matter how hurtful, how destructive and damaging and bring beauty out of it.
The word for ‘beauty’ is ‘pa’er’ פאר and the word for ashes is ‘afer אפר
They are the exact same letters but the order has been switched!
What the enemy used for evil God will use for good and with birth new things in you that you didn't even dream possible before. I believe that God wants to provide the hope and strength we need not to lose heart but to allow him to rebuild our lives. If we allow him to heal our hearts he will turn our mourning into dancing, our sorrow into joy and give us beauty for ashes.