You’ve been bent, bruised, and broken. You’ve stood firm, you’ve cried, you’ve grieved. You’ve gone from hopeless to hopeful all on calloused, bloody knees.
Now you stand on a summit, watching the sun kiss the sky with golden rays, as the tears on your cheeks dry in the light of brighter days. Green seedlings sprout in the ashes at your feet, as a rainbow graces the sky through what’s left of the rain, promising that the storm is over and the blessing have begun to come out of the pain.
You look down at yourself, scars mar your soul, and maybe your body as well. The storm is over, the tears are dry, the wounds are healed. You may wonder what the point was, longing for a purpose beyond yourself. You lived and you learned, but what now?
What Suffering Produces
The fire burns hot and furious. The smoke darkens the sky and poisons the air. Then there is silence. A quiet haunting silence. The fire is gone; it had nothing left to burn. Ashes lay piled like ebony snow. A waste of death spread as far as the eye could see. Sun and moon rise and set. Suddenly, something appears. Something so out of place amongst all the death. A new shoot sprouting up out of ashes, green and tender. A seedling tree, promising hope and life.
Did you know that ashes are used as fertilizer? New life growing in death. If a forest burns down, the ashes nourish the soil for the new trees. The same is true of your life. God uses your suffering, your struggles, and dead dreams, as the ashes that help new life grow.
Romans 5 encourages, “We rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”
Whenever I hear this passage, it makes me think of Joseph. He suffered much. His bothers, out of jealousy and hatred, threw him in a well and sold him into slavery. But Joseph endured, he worked hard and well in his master’s house. Joseph’s hardships sharpened his character. When his master’s wife tried to seduce him, he stood his ground and refused to do as she asked. Even though her spiteful lies had Joseph thrown in jail, Joseph’s hope was not dead, and that hope was not put to shame. God used Joseph’s suffering and he became the second most powerful man in Egypt and his wisdom saved two nations.
Hope Like Dandelions
Suffering produces endurance.
Endurance produces character.
Character produces hope.
But just like Joseph, that hope isn’t just for you. God gives you hope, often to overflowing, so that you can give hope to others. As 1 Corinthians 1 says, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” (1 Corinthians 1:3-4)
That’s why I started writing. I looked down at myself. I saw the scars on my soul, and I wondered, “What was the point?” I’d made it through the storm, through the dragon’s fire, through the funeral, and I had hope. My life was restored. Trees grew in the ashes. But why did all that matter if I just kept on living like I did before?
A little stronger but not lending a hand.
A little wiser but not using my voice.
A little more trusting but not stepping out.
It’s Time to Share the Scars That Shaped You
Then I heard for King & Country’s song “Fight On, Fighter,” and it hit me:
“I was there on the day that your world changed.
You were scared, unprepared for the heartbreak.
Everything you knew faded out of view, stole a piece of you.
If I could, oh I would be a hero, be the one who would take all the arrows.
Save you from the pain, carry all the weight, but I know that you’re brave.
Fight on fighter, don’t let anyone steal your fire.
Fight on fighter, the Spirit is alive inside you.
There’s a part that you hold that you’ve locked down.
Let it breathe, set it free, give it wings now.
Time to make your mark. Break the prison bars. Show them who you are.”
God spoke to me through that song, and I found that my voice couldn’t be contained. I had to share my hope.
So, I started writing.
What new things have been born out of the ashes in your heart? Discover them. Never contain them. Don’t believe the lie that tells you there’s nothing. If you suffered, something is there. If you watched something burn, something is growing in the ashes.What new things have been born out of the ashes in your heart? Discover them. Never contain them. Click To Tweet
So, let the ashes blow in the Spirit’s wind. Let the hope spread like dandelions. Because who knows who might need your ashes to nourish their barren soil.
Live brave. Don’t hide your scars. They make you a vessel of hope.