When Your Life Is Devastated

When Your Life Is Devastated // jessconnell.com

Yesterday our family drove to Mount St. Helens, the famous volcano in Washington state that erupted in 1980.

The eruption enacted complete devastation in the blast area. It “blew down so many trees that the toll was calculated at 4 billion board feet, the amount of lumber to build 300,000 two-bedroom homes.” The blast zone was covered in a layer of between 6 and 15 inches of pumice ash. Outside the blast area, volcanic dust layered the ground for hundreds of miles. Almost a third of the mountain was blown clean off the top, crops were ruined, and water systems were clogged and damaged.

Scientists predicted long-term land barrenness, and that ecological recovery would take decades or longer.

But a funny thing happened.

In a relatively short amount of time, life returned. (For more info, check out: AmericanForests.comCreation.com, LiveScience.com)

Here’s our family (and my visiting mother-in-law) in front of Mount St. Helens yesterday (yes, the crater part is covered in clouds and you can’t really see it… sorry!).


And today I’m just sitting here thinking…

That is so much like life.

18 months ago, when my husband unexpectedly, publicly, lost his job in our hometown church community in Texas, we experienced an eruption in our lives that looked like it would be utter devastation of all that we knew and loved.

And yet, here we are.

  • Living in Washington state.
  • Continuing to grow– personally, professionally, spiritually.
  • Blessed to be part of a thriving ministry
  • Surrounded by a growing church full of people–friends– that we love.
  • With a new little guy who, in February, joined us for the ride of life.

In case you need a Friday dose of cuteness, here he is:


God REALLY CAN make beauty from ashes.
He did it in the physical eruption of Mount St. Helens. He’s done it in the hard-hitting emotional life eruption we experienced 18 months ago.
And He can do it in whatever you’re currently facing.
If your life is seemingly devastated, don’t despair!
The Spirit of the Lord God is on Me,
because the Lord has anointed Me
to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives
and freedom to the prisoners;
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor,
and the day of our God’s vengeance;
to comfort all who mourn,
to provide for those who mourn in Zion;
to give them a crown of beauty instead of ashes,
festive oil instead of mourning,
and splendid clothes instead of despair.
And they will be called righteous trees,
planted by the Lord
to glorify Him.

~Isaiah 61:1-3

No matter how bad it looks, and no matter what the experts may be telling you, there is new growth yet to come. God has a good plan. He can bring life where there appears to be only death and hopelessness.
Hang on and don’t lose hope!
Lean in to the One who brings beauty from ashes.

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Jess Connell

Jesus-follower, Happy wife, Mom of 8 neat people. Former world-traveler, now settled in Washington. Host of Mom On Purpose podcast (momonpurpose.com). I write and wrangle kids.

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11 Responses

  1. Chelsea Johnson says:

    Thank you so much for this post and the reminder that God can make beauty from ashes. Within the last 10 months my world has been rocked to the core. It started with my husband losing his job while I was pregnant with our boy/girl twins. At the time I was on bedrest and the babies would make children #4 and #5( Ages 6 and under). We had the babies on Dec. 15th, and shortly after they were born the doctors told us that our daughter was suspected of having Down Syndrome. Her diagnosis was later confirmed when she was transferred to the NICU at a different hospital. Although that was a blow, we were still grateful to God that he blessed us with two beautiful babies. She was released from the hospital on Christmas Day. But it was on April 10th, 2015 my world shattered when I found my baby boy twin face down, blue and unresponsive while taking his nap. He was rushed to the hospital and then life flighted to a nearby children’s hospital. My nearly 4 month old son Christopher Jordan died that night on my mother’s birthday, who also passed away 2 years ago while I was 8 months pregnant with #3. My life has been rocked to the core these past almost 3 years. It hasn’t even been two months since my baby boy went to be with Jesus, BUT God has been so faithful to give us peace throughout this situation. My heart aches with so much loss and trials in my life, and a longing that this life won’t ever satisfy here on earth. However I am grateful because of my son’s life, people have come to Christ! And his story is still unfolding. My husband is still without work, and yet God has provided for us miraculously. Despite our circumstances, God has proven to us that He is still in control and that His promises are true. Thank you for allowing me to share.

    • Jess Connell says:

      Oh Chelsea, I am so very sorry for all the loss and heavy things you’ve borne in the past couple years. My goodness!!

      Thank you for sharing your story and testifying to God’s goodness and faithfulness amidst such a load. God bless you & fill you with grace and peace.

    • Kondwani says:

      Hi, I don’t know you, but I pray God gives you supernatural strength, peace, grace and hope through this heart-wrenching pain. God bless you and thanks for sharing all you did.

  2. Wonderful post Jess!

  3. Jen Hill says:

    So true! I’ve seen it in our own journey this past year! I’ve been encouraged by some of the biographies that I’ve read with our boys this past year as well. Brokenness and difficult circumstances can mold and grow a person so intensely…

    I always think of our Jesse Tree from advent, too. Out of what seems to be a dead stump…a green shoot grows! Life!

    • Jess Connell says:

      I’ve never done the Jesse Tree, but I can see how what you’re describing mimics this idea.

      The more I consider God’s sovereignty, even amidst hard things, the more I am certain that His beauty can shine the brightest amidst the blackness of sin & pain. I’m so thankful for the deep places He’s taken us to, and the way that He’s shown His faithfulness and care for us in those hard places.

      I’m reminded of the disciples’ question: “Lord, to whom else would we go? You have the words of life.” Even when the hardest things come, I am so grateful to have my Lord beside me.

      • Kondwani says:

        I’d recommend the Jesse tree – my boys LOVED it, and I can see many ways it can develop over future years. I think you’d like it too

  4. Sally Howard says:

    I just love you, your wisdom, and look forward each and every post! Adorable baby!

  1. April 6, 2016

    […] moved to Washington two years ago, at the end of March 2014. In about a year, this will be the longest we’ve […]

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