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To all who mourn in Israel, he will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair. In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks that the Lord has planted for his own glory. Isaiah 61:3 (NLT)

There is an old saying that states “Beauty is only skin deep.” Its meaning dates to that 15th century and has since then stood as a reminder to each of us that how a person looks is not nearly as important as what is inside. The person dressed in fancy, designer clothes may be more socially acceptable in their looks than the person with tattoos and pants hanging below their knees on the outside. However, the tattooed person may be more likely to lend a helping hand and give unconditionally to a cause or to help someone in distress.

The true character of a person is shown by how they react in times of adversity and despair. The prophet Isaiah says that those who mourn will show forth beauty. Mourning is an interior thing. It’s a feeling of remorse and despair that starts well below the surface, but beauty is what is seen on the outside.

Despair is captivates the entire body and can affect how we feel, act and respond to others. Praise on the other hand is obvious to all. Praise isn’t necessarily a physical showing of activity. It is more of a confident assurance that what we believe is true.

The prophet goes on to say that the people who exhibit beauty and praise are like oak trees, standing strong through the storm. Their roots hold fast in any stormy weather because they are grounded deep in righteousness. But that righteousness doesn’t come from themselves, it comes because of the faith they have in God through His Son Jesus Christ.

Standing firm when life attacks has nothing to do with our own strength. It has nothing to do with our past. It has nothing to do with our upbringing or the name of our church. It’s not about being baptized or any other religious activity. Standing firm comes solely through faith in Jesus Christ and His righteousness.

The Bible says that our very best behavior and our most devout spiritual beliefs are like filthy rags to God. Nothing in our past can save us or damn us. No present activities in this present time can hinder us or sustain us. It’s God’s grace and God’s forgiveness the makes us righteous. It is God’s Spirit that empowers us to stand firm.

True character is shown by how a person endures the storms of life, not by how they act when things are going right. Grow your roots deep in Jesus. Study His word. Pray often. Fellowship with like-minded believers. It is these things that will enable your true beauty to show forth in times of fear, anxiety and despair.

PRAYER: Father God, I come to you today confused, angry and afraid. I don’t know what tomorrow holds and I’m afraid what lay ahead. Forgive me for the way I’ve ignored you. Strengthen me with your Spirit so that when life’s storms attack I can rely on the roots of my standing with you. I want to be an Oak tree in the midst of a storm so others will see you through me. Amen.

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