From Ashes to Beauty: Why?

Doug and Pam Nuenke lost their home and all their earthly belongings in the Waldo Canyon Fire in Colorado Springs, June 26th, 2012. They continue to ask God to show them what they can learn from this experience, and grant them opportunities to help others have hope amidst their own challenges.

In my last post, I talked about trusting and resting in the God who hears and acts on our behalf. One of the ways He does this is by transforming the ruins of our lives into something beautiful.

This life, even for those who stay close to Jesus, is punctuated with painful events. Ever wonder why God must use difficulties – the ash experiences in our lives – to create beauty in and through us? I have on numerous occasions. And while Pam and I have experienced our share of ashes, we have friends who have had more painful experiences: physical illness, spousal unfaithfulness, prolonged unemployment, wounding from past trauma and illness or death of children.
Our friends and partners on staff with the Navigators, David and Renee Lyons, chronicle the journey of ushering their son Ian to heaven in the book “Don’t Waste the Pain.”  We are so grateful for those around us who, like the Lyons, model abiding in Jesus amidst the "sandpaper" experiences God allows in our lives.
As wonderful Old Testament gospel passage I’ve found to be very encouraging is one that Jesus quoted during his early ministry (cf Luke 4):
The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me,
                        because the LORD has anointed me
                        to preach good news to the poor.
            He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
                        to proclaim freedom for the captives
                        and release from darkness for the prisoners,
to proclaim the year of the LORD’S favor
                        and the day of vengeance of our God,
            to comfort all who mourn,
            and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
            to bestow on them a crown of beauty
                        instead of ashes,
            the oil of gladness
                        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 Isaiah 61:1-3
What a promise! What a great view into the purposes of God! He takes our brokenness, longs to comfort us and to bring beauty out of ashes. His desire is to use us each in His own way to be portrayals of His splendor.

Perhaps, like us, you've lost your home and belongings in a tragic event. Or perhaps your physical home is intact, but the day-to-day life going on inside is falling apart. Pam and I created the slideshow you see above to demonstrate not only that physical homes can be restored, but to illustrate a larger truth about our God. He is the Great Restorer, and longs to see each area of our lives brought to complete restoration. That process is sometimes long and painful. During the dark times in our lives, we can find ourselves asking God "why?"

In this series of blog posts, we will talk more about those "why?" experiences. We'll read about people who loved the Lord and still found themselves questioning His plans. In the meantime:
Is there anything that is currently “burning” and bringing pain into your world these days? What events or issues are currently causing you to ask God “why?”

(music in video used by permission)

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