"For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, works for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen– for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal." 2 Cor. 4:17, 18.
This morning as I was writing a message to a friend, I noticed that we use the letters and number B4A, as short for Beauty for Ashes (a community on Facebook) taken from Isaiah 61:3: "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".
As I was thinking that alphabetically A comes before B, a verse came to mind from I Corinthians 15 that says: v. 46 "The spiritual did not come first, but the natural, and after that the spiritual". Suddenly, I saw more clearly the application of both verses about the resurrection in the light of the grand scheme of God. This is about the celebration of the grand finale when the Lord will display His glory and we will share in that glory. The A in the Ashes, the Natural has to precede the B of Beauty of the Spiritual.
Verse 42. "So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; 43 it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; 44 it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. 45 So it is written: “The first man Adam became a living being”[f]; the last Adam, a life-giving spirit. 46 The spiritual did not come first, but the natural, and after that the spiritual. 47 48 As was the earthly man, so are those who are of the earth; and as is the heavenly man, so also are those who are of heaven. 49 And just as we have borne the image of the earthly man, so shall we[g] bear the image of the heavenly man".
But the best thing is that we do not have to wait until the Lord comes back in order to rejoice, be glad and be clothed with the garment of praise.
■ We are already clothed with his righteousness, we have passed from death to life, we have died with Him, our sins nailed to the cross and we live in him, for him and through him. Rom 6:8-14
If today you feel like the ashes cover you with their grayness suffocating your life, keeping you from seeing your way out of the heaviness of grief, the suffering of carrying an albatross of guilt as a heavy yoke around your neck, let him take your burden for he cares for you:
■ He has already provided the way for you to let the wind of his Spirit blow away those ashes, II Corinthians 1:3-5
■ He has provided the hope of standing firm, rooted and established in the grace in which we stand, Romans 5:1-5.
■ He has anointed us with his oil as priests who serve him with gladness in our hearts, I Peter 2:5, 9.
■ He has clothed us with his garment of salvation and a robe of righteousness as a bride adorns herself with her jewels. Isaiah 61:10-11,
■ His name is Emmanuel, God with us who “lives in a holy place, but also with him who is contrite in heart and lowly in spirit, I will guide him and restore comfort to him creating praise on the lips of the mourners…and I will heal them, Isaiah 57:15-19
■ His yoke is easy and his burden light, go to him and rest in him, accept and welcome his will for your life.
■ His word is true, his promises are sure and he never disappoints those who are hurting, empty, hungry for real food and drink and come to him with humble hearts seeking the comfort that they need.
All these and more are reasons to be grateful, thankful and praising him.
Personally Christmas time has always been the hardest season for me, I must confess and this year especially away from my family and American friends. I know that it so for a great number of other people who get depressed. What I am sharing with you has filled me with hope, a renewed sense of his wonderful presence and the scriptures that I quoted have comforted me. I hope that they will help you to turn your eyes away from the ashes of the past and enable you to contemplate the Beauty of His Holiness.
We thank you and praise you Lord Jesus for your great love for us and reaching down to us to transform our lives and our heart that is yearning for you, the desire of the nations.