Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Spiritual Exchanges

He gave me beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning,
the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness.
Isaiah 61:3
The line at Returns and Exchanges wound from the Customer Service area to the food vendors. As I expected, I would be waiting a while. It was December 26th, a day known for its number of  returns and exchanges, no matter what store you visit.

Did you know that God is in the business of returns and exchanges?

Isaiah 63:3 lists just a few of the unwanted aspects of life that God replaces with blessings--beauty for ashes, joy for mourning, praise for heaviness.

What about us? Couldn't we offer others the same kind of exchanges? When a co-worker criticizes another employee, might we find the courage to point out that person's positive traits? When someone laments over what they no longer have, could we show them an area of joy in the situation that they may have overlooked? In the midst of a friend's discouragement, can we help them see a blessing for which they can be truly thankful?

And dare we take this to a more personal level? When someone condemns us, can we not only resist lashing out in return, but interject beauty into the conversation? When we are feeling a deep sense of loss, might we be lifted up by reaching out to someone else who is lonely or hurting, who needs our overture of friendship? During times of stress and pressure, could we share our concerns with a friend who will pray with us, transferring those responsibilities to the shoulders of the One who can carry all of our heaviness?

What would you like to exchange? How has God taken a burden and replaced it with a blessing in your life?


©2013 Pamela D. Williams