With God We Can Rise From The Ashes


Helen Burns -Beauty From Ashes3

There is one family Christmas card photo that is forever etched in my memory because was so unusual. It was a photo of a family seated in front of a very large fireplace with a beautiful wreath hanging on it—but there was no house, just a family, a fireplace and a wreath. The message in the card said, “Everyone is here, we are all OK. We will rise from the ashes of the fire.” Their home was one of the many gorgeous mansions that had been destroyed by the California wildfires. The smiles on their beautiful faces and their expression of hope and thanksgiving deeply impacted me.

Throughout the course of our lives we can experience devastating circumstances that leave us feeling permanently immobilized or utterly destroyed by ‘the fire’. I have never experienced the physical effects of an actual fire, but like most people, I have come through the fire of life. I have experienced heartache, loss and devastation. I know what it feels like to think, “I can’t rise up from these ashes.”

God gives us a beautiful promise in Isaiah 61:3. It says, “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.” (NKJV)

Ashes signify the remnants of a fire. Only God can bring beauty out of ashes.

I grew up learning lessons from Smokey the Bear, who taught us the importance of preventing forest fires by taking responsibility to make sure that our campfires were completely out. No embers were to be left behind, only ashes. Embers were potentially dangerous as they had the ability to flare up again and cause more damage.

This continues to serve as such an important lesson in my own life—that true beauty comes from the ashes. I must let it go and allow the embers to die completely. Too often I want to fan the embers of loss, of hurt and betrayal, which will inevitably lead to more personal loss. I have to choose to give it all to God because He alone is able to redeem, restore and transform what has been lost in my life.

How can we find beauty in ashes after loss and devastation?

RELEASE: We release and let go even though there is still pain in the process, surrendering our broken hearts to God, trusting that God will cause healing to begin.

RELINQUISH: We forgive those who have hurt us, religuishing bitterness and judgement and the demand to see retribution. We trust God to be just and faithful and accept that the outcome is not up to us.

REFUSE: We refuse to allow self-pity to rule keeping us bound as a victim of our circumstances.

RULE: We allow the comfort and the peace of God to rule in our hearts and minds rather than fear or anxiousness

RISE: We begin to dream again with hope for the future and we begin to bravely take steps into new beginnings.

As I write, I am so keenly aware that there are some losses that are indescribably painful. I would never ever want to minimize or compare my losses to any one else’s. My prayer for you is that somehow in the midst of brokenness and pain you would find comfort in knowing that our magnificent God in Heaven sees you and that cares so deeply and completely for you. I pray that through the enabling power of the Holy Spirit, you find strength to rise up from the circumstances that have held you captive and you find hope and the will to go on and bravely take a step forward. God makes all things beautiful in God’s time.

Helen Burns

Helen Burns

Helen Burns and her husband, John, speak around the world on the topic of relationships. They host the popular TV show “Relate with John and Helen.”
Helen Burns
Helen Burns

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  1. Tracy Nelson says:

    wow. needed this today …. still trying to “get over” it ….when really, perhaps, I should be getting through, or around, or probably working to transform …. “it” …. wanting God to use it for good, but often still so stuck. Thank you for the reminder, Helen, of beauty for ashes … holding onto hope, and waiting.

  2. Jodell Halliger says:

    I lost my husband of 30 years about 5 1/2 years ago. We were 8th grade sweethearts. He had a heart attack in my car as I was trying to get him to the hospital. He landed in our disabled daughters lap in the back seat. So as you can imagine it was a pretty rough day. But oh how our Lord has never left our side… But even knowing and experiencing Gods love and faithfulness we still need these reminders from time to time (ok, everyday) so thank you Helen for sharing your wisdom and Gods promises.. God bless you always….

  3. 27 months ago my husband died, I know he is in heaven and I find piece in that. It has been diff ult to move forward as we still had so much life ahead of us, he was 59 years old and we had so many dreams and plans. Daily I have to make the choice to get up and face the day, with out him. I am learning to trust that God has a plan and one day my ashes will be turned into a beautiful story of hope and restoration. Thank you Helen for this message … it is a reminder that there is stil hope and purpose after loss.

    • Helen Burns Helene Burns says:

      Kim…. thank you for sharing a part of your heart and your story. I am so sorry for your immense loss – I honestly can’t fathom the depth of the pain you have walked through. What a brave and courageous woman you are to keep facing each day with trust and determination. I believe with you that your story will become a beacon of hope for so many others. God richly and deeply bless you xox

  4. Madison Shaw says:

    I seriously needed to hear this this today. The holy spirit reminded me that there is not any situation or weakness that gods grace cannot cover; and that we always have the choice to take that next step into freedom. Such a comforting word! Thank you Helen xo

    • Helen Burns Helene Burns says:

      I’m so blessed to know that this spoke comfort and hope to your heart today Madison. God bless you as you rise strong. xo

  5. Those fires are vivid in my memory – 14 families in our congregation lost everything 7 years ago. All of them rose from the ashes! God is faithful; we are called to hang onto hope. Thank you, Helen.

    • Helen Burns Helene Burns says:

      Oh wow… this is so personal to you knowing these amazing families. Their story continues to inspire me. God truly is always and forever faithful. Much love to you. xo

  6. Your description of that long ago Christmas card brings tears to my eyes, and then your powerful R’s alongside the truth that God is sovereign –even over time — brings joy to my heart. Thank you for this beautiful and comforting reminder on a Saturday morning.

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