It is when we weep and howl in the agonies of distress that our rescue is all the more rejoiced in. When we see the contrast of our mourning turned into dancing and our ashes replaced with a crown, it gives us a picture of where we came from and what we deserve and what we get through the free salvation of Christ Jesus.
Ash Wednesday is a day of penitence but it leads to a party—new life in Jesus! We see our dire state and we see our sweet salvation!
Ash Wednesday is a type of looking down. Looking at ourselves, the state that we’re in. But we look down so we can have the right perspective as we look up and out to Jesus.
Ash Wednesday is a tangible and powerful symbol of our need. And when we know our need we rejoice in the One that comes for the poor and needy.
Ash Wednesday reminds us that “we are dust and to dust, we shall return” but it also reminds us “that God is mindful of us.” He cares for us.
He cares for us so much that Jesus took on flesh—the dust of the earth—to be a curse for us.
On Ash Wednesday we cry out: “Wretched person that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?”
But we don’t stop there.
We also say: “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Rom. 7:24-25)! Death and ashes are not the end! For all those who have trusted in Christ death will soon be swallowed up in glory (1 Cor. 15:54)!