To console those who mourn in Zion,
To give them beauty for ashes,
The oil of joy for mourning,
The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness;
That they may be called trees of righteousness,
The planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.”

Isaiah 61:3

It is nice to repurpose materials that are no longer valued or have lost their purpose, to take things that are bascially worthless and give them purpose, restoring their value.  One idea is to take apart abandoned wooden pallets and use their planks as wall paneling.  Another is to hang our grandmother’s old bent spoons and forks on a wire frame to form a wind chime.

Upcycling is another form of repurposing.  Pinterest is full of pages devoted to the upcycling of household items, garments, industrial wares, and furniture.  The before and after images are amazing testimonies to the creativity of the artists who transform trash into treasure.

Repurposing and upcycling makes perfect sense to some – and not so much to others.  One day Honey Pie, my husband, came in while I was cutting pictures of butterflies from pages of an old dictionary and pieces from old paper maps.  “Why are you doing that?” he asked.  “To make a birthday card,” I replied.  He looked at the table covered with scraps and glitter and said with utmost sincerity, “You know they sell cards at the store.”

God repurposed the jealousy of Joseph’s brothers, the revenge of Potiphar’s wife, and the neglect of the cup bearer into a position of power and the saving of the very ones who sought to destroy Him.

God alone can repurpose painful experiences into peace.  Beauty for ashes.  Grace for fear.  Peace for despair.

I can’t say for sure, but I wonder if my love for repurposing and upcycling comes from my own experience.  From the way the Lord took my most bitter experiences and taught me compassion for others.  And from the beautiful relationship He has formed with me, using His grace and mercy to mend the shattered pieces of my heart.  How He took every painful thing I had experienced, every hurtful thing I had done to myself, and transformed me into His child.

The next time you hold a handful of broken dreams, or are left standing on a pile of worthless expectations, look again.  God just may be planning your next big repurposing project.



Rachel is a writer and public speaker who shares her real-life experiences, mostly mistakes and do-overs.  Visit her at

Reprinted with permission from Reflections.

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