To console those who mourn in Zion, To give them beauty for ashes. Isaiah in Chapter 61:3
That morning I lay on the bed next to Mom. While she rested, I watched the trees blowing in the breeze outside the window. There was one tree at the back of the yard that had begun to change to brilliant shades of yellow and gold. As the wind blew, the leaves would catch a ray of sunlight and send out a shimmering flash. The effect was that of twinkle lights on a Christmas tree. It was a beautiful sight. I was encouraged by the fact that the leaves are dying, as it is their time, but still there is beauty in that dying.
As I lay there enjoying this display of God’s beauty, I was reminded of the verse in Isaiah. My mother had a chronic illness and there was nothing beautiful about the disease process. My family mourned for her. The loss came slowly and stealthily. It was very hard to watch her suffer.
Despite this, I was able to find some beauty in this situation. This came as a shock to some people. They didn’t understand how I could say that I won’t ever tell you that I am happy with what happened to Mom. However, I took comfort in the fact that God was in control, and I looked for beauty as a reminder of His promise to give us beauty for ashes.
There is incredible beauty in my parent’s love story. Always evident, it was much more so during those days of Mom’s waning. I saw the love that lasted for more than 47 years reflected in Mom and Dad’s eyes as they interacted. I saw how patiently and lovingly my Dad lived out his wedding vows. He kept going despite his own grief.
There was beauty in Mom as she laughed at our silly jokes and crazy things the dog did. The changes the disease brought cannot change the fact that Mom was a beautiful person inside and out.
I saw the beauty of God’s plan for my life that allowed me to minister to Mom and Dad in a very tangible way during that time. In January of 2007, a lay-off took my job. I met with the HR Director the day after I found out and he asked me, “How are you doing, Tamara?” I responded with the truth, “I am doing just fine.” He then asked me how I could say that considering my circumstances. The truth is I trusted that God was working in this and there was beauty in that trust.
It’s hard to lose a job through no fault of your own. Not only was I thinking about how I was going to go forward, but 22 of my coworkers were losing their jobs also. There is no beauty in having your only source of income cut off. Yet, it was this lay-off that opened the door for me to take nine months to give Mom and Dad what they needed most, time. The beauty of God’s design for my life was evident.
We all will have times of ugliness in our lives. We will have times of mourning and suffering. James tells us to expect trials in the very first chapter of his book. There is no hiding the fact that in this world there is suffering. I encourage you, though, to keep looking for the beauty in life. When you least expect it God just may give you twinkle lights on a fall tree to encourage you. He has promised He will exchange your ashes for beauty. Hold tight to that promise.