Beauty from Ashes

It is freezing today! I ran across this poem in my files this morning, and found it appropriate to the times. Not only to this crazy-cold weather, but to the emotional climate I find myself in lately. As the poem says, “The pain’s not gone…it’s still as hard and cold and long as lonely pain has ever been”. I continue to struggle through difficult days here, but am encouraged in the thought that from them (in them, in fact) a flower blooms.

If you find yourself in a painful season on this wintry day, be encouraged that God has not left you. He is with us and at work within our pain. The disillusionment in the way we thoughts things were going to be must come so we can push through to the glorious reality of what is. I have been comforted lately in knowing that My Father in Heaven does not change like shifting shadows. He is eternal, holy, and all-together lovely. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. And He is the Resurrected God, the Living Lord; who is at work in our pain and desolation. He brings beauty from the ashes. May this poem encourage you in this truth today, even if you are reading it from a smoldering ruin.

“They will rebuild the ancient ruins and restore the places long devastated; they will renew the ruined cities that have been devastated for generations” (Isaiah 61:4). All power and honor and glory to Our God forever and ever. Amen.

Long, long, long ago;
Way before this winter’s snow
First fell upon these weathered fields;
I used to sit and watch and feel
And dream of how the spring would be,
When through the winter’s stormy sea
She’d raise her green and growing head,
Her warmth would resurrect the dead.

Long before this winter’s snow
I dreamt of this day’s sunny glow
And thought somehow my pain would pass
With winter’s pain, and peace like grass
Would simply grow.  The pain’s not gone.
It’s still as cold and hard and long
As lonely pain has ever been,
It cuts so deep and fear within.

Long before this winter’s snow
I ran from pain, looked high and low
For some fast way to get around
Its hurt and cold.  I’d have found,
If I had looked at what was there,
That things don’t follow fast or fair.
That life goes on, and times do change,
And grass does grow despite life’s pains.

Long before this winter’s snow
I thought that this day’s sunny glow,
The smiling children and growing things
And flowers bright were brought by spring.
Now I know the sun does shine,
That children smile, and from the dark, cold, grime
A flower comes. It groans, yet sings,
And through its pain, its peace begins.

 Mary Ann Bernard. From Rueben Job and Norman Shawchuck, eds., A Guide to Prayer for Ministers and Other Servants (Nashville, TN: The Upper Room, 1983) p. 144.