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He Gives Beauty for Ashes

He Gives Beauty for Ashes

[God will] care for the needs of all who mourn in Zion, give them bouquets of roses instead of ashes... Rename them “Oaks of Righteousness” planted by God to display his glory. They’ll rebuild the old ruins, raise a new city out of the wreckage. — Isaiah 61:2-4 MSG

Stella weeps after giving birth to a baby with no heartbeat. Years later, her four children are piling on top of her, each one’s giggles louder than the next.

Sam panics when he’s diagnosed with cancer. Years later, a routine scan comes back clear as he’s training for running a marathon.

Mae is heartbroken as she watches her husband move out. Years later, their bond is the strongest it’s ever been. They write love notes to each other every day.

These are snapshots of lives that have been touched by the God of beauty, the One who gifts us with renewal and sweet surprises.

Even when things feel hopeless, He says, “This can change. You can have joy instead of mourning and praise instead of despair. You can even become like a strong oak tree, one I planted to show the world My beauty.”

It may take time, but you can count on Him to free you. Ask Him to shine a brilliant light in any dark shadows and fill you up with deep goodness and new joy.

  • I believe You always have more beauty to give, God.

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Make Hope the New Default

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. — Romans 15:13

God wants His kids’ hearts to be joyful and peaceful. Our part is trusting. His part is empowering us to overflow with hope, which can become our default mindset.

We don’t have to amplify the negative and downplay the positive. We can choose hope instead of pessimism. We can notice and soak in God’s goodness and let His love and words of promise fill our hearts. We can respond to Him by saying, “‘My hope is in you all day long’ and at night, ‘my body also will rest in hope’” (Psalm 25:5; Acts 2:26).

In this mindset, every day is a clean slate and fresh start, full of possibilities and potential good surprises.

Henri Nouwen wrote, “Our spiritual life is a life in which we wait, actively present to the moment, expecting that new things will happen to us, new things that are far beyond our own imagination or prediction. This, indeed, is a very radical stance toward life in a world preoccupied with control.”1

Consider some new leading thoughts today: God is preparing amazing things. His abundant goodness sparks anticipation and joy.

Give me the courage and faith to make hope my default mindset. Holy Spirit, make my heart overflow with hope.

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Bring on the Levity

A merry heart does good, like medicine. — Proverbs 17:22 NKJV

Laughter is the most beautiful and beneficial therapy God ever granted humanity,” said pastor Chuck Swindoll. We definitely need to put humor in our toolbelt for dealing with anxiety. It wields some heavy-duty power.

Laughter releases tension and relaxes muscles, which can last for up to forty-five minutes afterward. It boosts energy, improves immunity, reduces stress hormones, and produces endorphins, which relieves pain and stress.2 There’s no question it relaxes us. And “the calmer we are, the more we remain in a rational or positive mind.”3

Laughing about something other than our circumstances can bring us relief simply by capturing our attention. Humor can also give us a new view of our life situation; finding a way to laugh about our worries and struggles can make them seem less threatening and heavy.4 Levity does mean “lightness,” after all.5

So seek out people who will laugh with you. Get goofy with friends and family. Watch silly animals on YouTube and silly people on TV shows. Tell stories and revisit memories that make you smile. Quote funny movie lines. Be playful and quick to lighten things up. See the humor in life, and you’ll make yourself more resilient.

You are the God of joy and You want joy for me. Help me bring more humor and levity into my everyday mindset.

  1. Henri Nouwen, Finding My Way Home: Pathways to Life and the Spirit (New York: Crossroad Publishing, 2004), 101.

  2. Lawrence Robinson, Melinda Smith, and Jeanne Segal, “Laughter Is the Best Medicine,” HelpGuide, https://www.helpguide.org/articles/mental-health/laughter-is-the-best-medicine.htm.

  3. “ANXIETY: Find the Humor, Find the Cure,” Anxiety and Depression Association of America, February 27, 2018, https://adaa.org/learn-from-us/from-the-experts/blog-posts/consumer/anxiety-find-humor-find-cure.

  4. Robinson, Smith, and Segal, “Laughter Is the Best Medicine.”

  5. “Levity,” Dictionary.com, https://www.dictionary.com/browse/levity.

Excerpted with permission from Calm Your Anxious Mind by Carrie Marrs, copyright Zondervan.

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Your Turn

God always has more beauty to give! Default in hope in Him. Grab onto joy in Him, even if it's just the hope of future joy. He is for you! Come share your thoughts with us. We want to hear from you! ~ Devotionals Daily

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