To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that He might be glorified. Isaiah 61:3
On my recent visit with my sisters, the one I spent the most time with noticed something about me that surprised her, I believe. She was amazed and delighted to see me with “joy” exuding from my very being. She used the word “joy” with a sweet happiness on her face. She mentioned it again on the phone this past weekend.
The question is: how can I be exuding joy when I am in the midst of mourning my precious husband? How can this be? My heart hurts. It is heavy, filled with sorrow. The tears come and they go, but they are always right there, ready to leak out.
I have been pondering all of this and believe I know what Annette is seeing, sensing, feeling in and about me. It is the joy of the Lord. It is the Holy Spirit dwelling in me. It is the joy of the Lord as my strength. This is the only answer. Truly, it is!
…yet I will rejoice in the LORD;
I will take joy in the God of my salvation. GOD, the Lord, is my strength;
He makes my feet like the deer’s;
He makes me tread on my high places. Habakkuk 3:18-19
cheerfulness; specifically, welcome:—gladness, joy, mirth, rejoicing
Matthew Henry, in his Commentary writes about Isaiah 61:3
- Beauty for ashes. Whereas they lay in ashes, as was usual in times of great mourning, they shall not only be raised out of their dust, but made to look pleasant. Note, The holy cheerfulness of Christians is their beauty and a great ornament to their profession.
- (Me: As God changes the ashes to beauty, He turns sorrow into joy quickly for He speaks, and it is done. Kenneth has been gone almost 3 months now [amazing for it seems like yesterday]. Annette not only saw this joy in me a few weeks ago, but she heard it over the phone within the first month after Kenneth died.)
- (Matthew Henry):The oil of joy, which make the face to shine, instead of mourning, which disfigures the countenance and makes it unlovely. This oil of joy the saints have from that oil of gladness with which Christ himself was anointed above his fellows,
“You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness;
therefore God, your God, has anointed you
with the oil of gladness beyond your companions.” Hebrews 1:9
- (Matthew Henry): The garments of praise, such beautiful garments as were worn on thanksgiving-days, instead of the spirit of heaviness, dimness, or contraction-open joys for secret mournings. The spirit of heaviness they keep to themselves (Zion’s mourners weep in secret); but the joy they are recompensed with they are clothed with as with a garment in the eye of others. Observe, Where God gives the oil of joy he gives the garment of praise. Those comforts which come from God dispose the heart to, and enlarge the heart in, thanksgivings to God. Whatever we have the joy of God must have the praise and glory of.
…looking to Jesus, the Founder and Perfecter of our faith, Who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:2
“As the Father has loved Me, so have I loved you. Abide in My love. If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.” John 15:9-11
“…may be full” … filled with Him. What greater joy can there be but the joy of the LORD, the One Who went to the cross for us, to save us, to suffer for us. He was the joy that was set before Him as He endured the cross. We ask how? How did He have joy as He died on the cross, the torturous death which it was? How? He is joy. He endured the cross because He loved us each and all so very much. The cross was horrible, but the purpose for which He endured that cross outweighed the horribleness of it. It was the reason He came to earth as a human. He came to take our sin to that cross and gave us eternal life. Joy is beautiful. Joy is full.
As I was reading a devotional this morning in Psalm 34, I read verse 5. It said it all:
Those who look to Him are radiant,
and their faces shall never be ashamed. ESV
Those who look to Him for help will be radiant with joy;
no shadow of shame will darken their faces. NLT
Those who look to Him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame. NIV
They looked expectingly unto Him, And they became bright, And their faces are not ashamed. YLT
So I ask how can I look like joy on the outside when my heart is broken and so filled with sorrow? Jesus. I have Jesus. He is my joy. I can live each day because I have Jesus. I am mourning, and I am comforted. I am mourning and am filled with the love of God. I am mourning and am filled to overflowing with the joy of the Lord.
“…And do not be grieved, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.” Nehemiah 8:10b
Lord, I am truly in awe of Your beauty. You have so much love for me, Your sheep. I fail You again and again, yet You never cease to love me. Thank You, Lord; thank You. You hold me near as I can feel You right here. You fill me with unimaginable joy and love in the very midst of grief. How wonderful You are. Great is Your faithfulness. You comfort me with Your touch, Your nearness, Your gentleness. You change my ashes of sorrow to beauty. You clothe me in garments of praise, taking the spirit of heaviness away. And You drench me in the oil of joy while I mourn. Joy, praise, and beauty that are each and all You projecting from me out into this world. Thank You for such wonderful gifts, Lord. I am on my knees before You, loving You. I pray and I praise in the Name of all names, Christ Jesus. Amen.
Beauty for Ashes: https://brandinicolejm.wordpress.com/
Oil of Joy: http://belovedlove.org/
Garments of Praise: https://becomingtheoilandwine.com/2016/06/11/the-garment-of-praise/
Psalm 34:5: http://www.psalmsquotes.com/
You Give Me Beauty: https://mariekalake.com/2014/09/22/beauty-for-ashes/