Handing Him My Ashes
I am continually amazed by how God works through terrible circumstances for his glory. He takes the tragic stories in our lives and uses them to minister to others, to make something beautiful.
Christmas of 2014 I was traveling with my REACH team in South Asia. We had only been there about a month when I got the phone call nobody wants to get. My brother had passed away, and my biggest nightmare was proving true. I’m not going to even try and explain how much he meant to me, or how much I loved him. Mostly because this isn’t about my feelings, but about how God has used my journey of grief and pain to glorify Him.
So now, a year and a half later, I’m back at the Rosedale International Center living life as the Kitchen Assistant Intern. It’s been a journey in itself getting used to the routine and responsibility of my job. We recently took our team mission trip to White Pigeon, Michigan where we served with a youth group, an after school program, and various service projects. Although the trip was busy and slightly exhausting, it was great, and our team really enjoyed the trip.
For me, there were some hard days. March 12 was my brother’s birthday and a very emotional day. I stayed back from service projects that day to allow myself time to process and grieve. Little did I know that God was using that day of pain to create a beautiful time of ministry. God pulled me through that day and even gave me things to thank him for in the midst of loss.
The next day was Sunday, and apparently one of the guys in the youth group had asked where I was the day before. After hearing a little bit of my story, he immediately sympathized. He had also lost his brother recently. We began to talk and encourage one another. At the end he asked if I could pray for his sister as she continues to walk through the pain of losing a sibling.
It was such a blessing to be able to encourage, pour into, and love one another. We stood in a circle with the youth group and prayed that God would continue to heal us all. God set up this meeting for us to encourage each other. He continues to amaze me with his divine appointments and mysterious ways.
As I reflect on this incident, Isaiah 61:3 comes to mind. And provide for those who grieve in Zion to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor.
Without him there isn’t a beautiful crown, just ashes. No oil of joy or garment of praise to replace the mourning. But with him the pain in our lives displays his splendor – if we have open hands to give that pain to him, if we allow him to walk through us. Don’t get me wrong, it is still hard to hand him my ashes, but I am never disappointed with the crown he hands back.