Beauty for Ashes
Stephen was preaching his heart out in Acts 7. The religious leaders screamed out in protest and they stoned him to death. Now to the Christians, it was as if life had dealt them a plate full of ashes. Have you ever felt as though your dreams have burned up and there is nothing left but ashes? In Isaiah 61, the Scripture says, “He will give beauty for ashes, joy instead of mourning, praise instead of despair” (Isaiah 61:3). The way Stephen died—full of faith and courage and love— it struck a chord in the heart of a young Pharisee watching named Saul. Soon after, Saul of Tarsus, the persecutor of the church, became Paul the apostle. Was the stoning of Stephen ashes? Yes it was. But God turned it around for good, just like He can and just like He will do for you. Now that’s real hope.