Beauty for Ashes
He gives us beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness, that we may be trees of righteousness the planting of the Lord that he may be glorified. ~Isaiah 61:3*
I have spent the majority of my life in a battle with depression. There were times where my heart was so heavy that I actually contemplated suicide as the only escape for the feelings of despair and hopelessness that plagued me almost daily.
I fasted and prayed, made petitions and cried out to God, I would experience temporary relief but like a familiar friend, that spirit of heaviness would find its way back to me. And it seems that I would be there waiting. allowing it to envelope me like a blanket of warmth and protection.
I learned to be safe in my depression, I did not have to be anyone, or do anything. I didn’t have to be a good wife or mother, I didn’t have to be the best student or daughter. I didn’t have to do anything but lay around and be depressed. It was the perfect excuse for why I could not and would not be all that God predestined for me to be. But the pain and the agony and the despair of hopelessness was threatening to take my life, I had no more energy to fight, I cried our to God yet again and I said, “Why are you not helping me.” and he said, ” I gave you the garment of tehillah (praise) to counteract the spirit of heaviness. Sing praise, sing unto the Lord a new song, your deliverance is in your praise.”
so I tried to sing a new song and no sound came forth, so I just hummed and hummed and as I continued to make a sound, words began to flow from my heart and after a while a song sprang forth and I began to sing.
And today I still sing, when my heart gets heavy and I feel the familiar spirit of depression knocking on my door, sometimes out of habit, I will crack the door open, but for the most part I peep through the key hole and when I see his face, I lock the door and I begin to sing. His visits are less and less frequent now, and I am ok with that …
The Orthodox Jewish Bible Translation says: To grant unto Avelei Tziyon (Mourners of Zion), giving unto them a flower wreath instead of ashes, the shemen sasson (oil of joy) instead of avel (mourning), the garment of tehillah (praise) for the ruach of keheh (fainting, a heavy spirit); that they might be called Eilei HaTzedek (Oaks of Righteousness), the planting of Hashem, that He might be glorified. ~Isaiah 61:3