A popular song I remember from growing up in the church was called “Beauty for Ashes.” I always loved this song because I resonated with the idea that God can take the darkest parts of our lives and somehow make them beautiful. While I believed this to be true, for much of my life I hadn’t truly experienced life in the form of ashes. That’s not to say that I didn’t experience my share of challenges and loss, but I had not yet reached a point of total desperation and dependence on God.

That all changed in 2015. After 12 years of marriage, my husband and I were in the midst of a storm that could very well have ended our marriage. We were completely broken as we realized just how fragile our marriage was. I’ll never forget the feeling of wondering if we would make it and even if it was worth fighting for. Thankfully, we had just enough wisdom to move forward by confronting brokenness, taking time to heal, and choosing to build a new marriage. I can tell you that confronting the ashes in our marriage was a long journey, but it was worth it.

One Scripture I had known for years became very real during that season. In Psalm 18, David writes, “You protect me with salvation-armor; you hold me up with a firm hand, caress me with your gentle ways. You cleared the ground under me so my footing was firm” (vv. 35–36 MSG). The Bible is full of stories where God brought hope and new life to people in desperate situations. God promises that when we walk through difficulty, He is not only walking with us, but He protects us, holds us up, and helps us to find our footing.

For many years I believed this to be true, and now our family has experienced God’s protection and help in powerful and lasting ways. We now celebrate our new and improved marriage while continuing to grow and build for our future. Our marriage is not perfect, but it is honest. We are still complete opposites and have our share of challenges, but this time we have the necessary tools to walk through challenges together. We have seen our family completely transformed, giving us glimpses of how a thriving marriage can look.

Perhaps you are in a difficult season in your life and wonder where God is. Your marriage and family may be broken, and it seems impossible to see a brighter future. It is in these seasons that thankfulness and gratitude become real. When we choose to put our hope and trust in God, I believe it is a powerful form of gratitude. As someone who has walked this journey, I am certain that even in our darkest moments, God is right there beside us. His love and His grace are enough, and it is when we receive His grace that we begin to find comfort and healing that leads to beauty. My hope for you is that you will not only recognize the ashes in your life but that you will invite God to turn those ashes into beauty.