Out of the Ashes
“Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. ” (Romans 12:12).
As I mentioned last week in my devotion, Paul’s words in Romans 12 invite us to offer our whole selves to God. In these latter verses he makes a further point particularly about being “patient in tribulation.” Trouble was no stranger to Paul and he often reminds fellow Christians to not only accept troubles to to expect troubles and to rejoice and be hopeful amidst them.
When I woke this morning I could smell the fires burning south and east of us in Salinas and Carmel Valley. Ashes were covering my car and everything outside. There are some who have evacuated and regrettably there has already been loss of homes and other structures. I know many of you reading this have already reached out to help those you know in need. As if COVID-19, the economic downturn and cultural convulsions weren’t enough, now we have a dangerous wildfire threatening homes and lives. We continue to pray for God’s presence to be revealed even with so much trouble that surrounds people we know.
The ashes reminds me of a Biblical teaching about lament. The Psalms, we have been learning, are filled with lament. In many ways the Psalms teach us that we need to lament in order to get to the praise. During Lenten season, I like to remind us that we need worship services like Ash Wednesday if we want to fully embrace the joyful celebration of Easter Sunday. The ashes remind us why Jesus wanted to come: to bring healing, hope and life out of the ashes of this world.
For God so loved the world that He sent the Eternal Son, Jesus Christ, into our broken world, not to dominate it but to submit to it. Jesus chose to suffer and die so that we might have life in the midst of our pain and longing. Because of Jesus we can be patient in our affliction because we know it’s not all meaningless. In Christ, everything in us becomes eternally significant. Our ashes don’t go to waste either. We can be patient in affliction because we have Christ in us and with us.
Living Out the Word of God
How might God use the challenges, the problems and the very real suffering you are experiencing to glorify Him and help others connect to Christ? Is there some way you can support someone who is suffering from the fires? We’d love to hear how you see God using trials in your life to help people come closer to knowing Christ. Send your stories to firstname.lastname@example.org.
LORD, we don’t often understand why there are ashes in our lives. But we know because of You, Jesus, we can be patient in affliction and rejoicing in hope. May we always pray to stay focused on You and take the opportunities to share Your goodness with someone who is struggling with the ashes in their life. Amen.