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

It feels as if America is in ashes this week, this mourning. The pandemic of recent months has taken lives, broken dreams and closed businesses. Most of us continue recovery from loss that we call our own.

A few days ago a police officer killed a man while making an arrest. Everything about the situation is horrific and we are burning again. We will see more ashes, more waste. I think of my country. The news is nauseating, the actual reporting sometimes worse, fanning the flames. I recall a time when some terrible event would take up the headlines for weeks. These occurrences have become daily events. In 2020, it is hard to know which story is shocking enough to be the headline, and before the day ends another has taken its place. These days are perilous times, no embellishment necessary.

America: we are in ashes! We mourn. There is blame sufficient for all. If we want to see beauty from ashes, we may call in the National Guard but we should not expect beauty. Eventually, quiet streets will be mountains of ashes, without beauty.

America is in need of a permanent solution and that solution, our only hope, is a return to the God of Zion. We need Him to fight our battles, to protect our cities and to comfort those that mourn. 

Isaiah 61:3 speaks of God’s ability and willingness to give oil of joy for mourning, a garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness and yes, beauty for ashes. He wants to do this that he might be glorified. 

America was once seen as a nation of good people. I still feel that way, but we are a needy people too. We have been trees of righteousness that the Lord planted and He was glorified in the birth of the United States of America. We have lost our way. The United States was formed to enable people to pursue happiness and enjoy freedom, both gifts of Almighty God.

When sin is excused, or justified, anarchy reigns. Justice is no longer swift and we forget that a soft answer turneth away wrath.  When we forget this principle among our small and friendly circles, then we are not equipped to handle larger matters when they erupt. Evidence screams that Satan knows this truth too. Let soft answers begin with us.

We are a country that has largely supported Israel and have enjoyed abundance in doing so. We are a country that lead the world in spreading the Gospel. No other nation has been more benevolent than ours. We are not perfect, but God has honored our righteousnesses.  For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love, which ye have shewed toward his name, in that ye have ministered to the saints, and do minister. Hebrews 6:10

Ladies, at a time like this, we should not underestimate our power and ability to make a difference, to change the outcome. This is a day of mourning; let it be a day of prayer. What we do in our little lives can have more effect than an army in the streets. I don’t want to underestimate the power and ability of our military and police forces. I am stressing that the prayers of the righteous are crucial in supporting those on the front line.

God delights in giving beauty for ashes, oil of joy and garments of praise. No good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly. (Psalm 84:11)  

The struggle now going on for the world will never be decided by bombs or rockets, by armies or military might. The real crisis we face today is a spiritual one; at root, it is a test of moral will and faith. Ronald Reagan