To console those who mourn in Zion, To give them beauty for ashes, The oil of joy for mourning, The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; That they may be called trees of righteousness, The planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified.”Isaiah 61:3 (NKJV)
Just as ambition and a desire for praise can motivate a proud and vain person to create works of great beauty and service for mankind, God can use even our most base instincts and actions to bring about blessings and beauty. He is that powerful and that good.
When hearing daily reports of injustice, violence, and mindless destruction, I cling to the promise from the Old Testament of God’s consolation in the form of beauty and joy.
When Joseph’s brothers threw him into that pit to die and then sold him into slavery when the opportunity arose, it was an act of great evil motivated by the brothers’ jealousy and greed. It took many years, but God used that crime – brother against brother – to save those guilty brothers and their whole nation during a great famine. He brought the beauty of forgiveness and salvation out of violence and hate.
What He did in Old Testament times He is still doing today. Sometimes this happens quickly, other times the change is so slow that we don’t recognize what He’s doing and only when looking back can we see His hand moving for our good and His glory.
Our righteous, loving, unchanging God can turn around even these evil days to bring about beauty from the ashes of despair. Take heart, Christians, the planting of the LORD will be glorified.