Beauty from Pain

November 25, 2009 at 6:09 am 1 comment

I once heard a story about a child prodigy.  The young girl was a beautiful violinist, and her youth and skill quickly made her famous.  I can’t remember the details of the original story, but we’ll say she played for kings and queens and the like, and everyone was captivated by her music.  During one concert, a man leaned over and commented on how beautiful the music was.  “Yes,” his friend replied, “And if this is what she sounds like now, just imagine how much more beautiful she’ll sound once she’s had her heart broken.” 

It seems that the greatest beauty and deepest wisdom and strongest faith can only come from great tragedy.  These are the roses that bloom only in the path of sorrow.  I see it over and over when I look at the lives of the people I admire: Elisabeth Elliot, Amy Carmichael, Angie Smith – whether they lived generations ago or today, the common thread is tragedy.  And yet they live joyfully; from their lives has spread much love and wisdom and faith that touches so many others. 

I want to live like them.  But I don’t want the pain.

Nobody does, of course.  It’s our very nature to shrink from pain and sorrow.  But we can’t have one without the other.  And, I think, I am pretty much guaranteed both of them.  I will face storms, and trials, and tragedy.  And God will create beauty from the ashes; he will teach me and show me things in those dark times that I could never see otherwise. 

I confess that I hate to think about that.  I so often cling to the comforting lie that the Christian life is one protected from pain.  You know, because there are verses in the Bible about God protecting and providing for me, about His healing hand and His mercies.  And they’re all true.  But I like to take them out of context and think that he will protect me from every pain, every discomfort, every hurt. 

And nothing could be farther from the truth.  There will be a time when He will wipe the tears from my eyes; when there will be no more pain or fears or imperfection.  It’s called heaven.  But for now, here on earth, he has called me to carry my cross – to walk the painful path. 

When I can detach myself and actually look objectively, I see that there is no value to faith untested, gold unrefined.  Anyone can say they believe in God when things are going their way; anyone can act happy when life treats them as a king.  But they have no character and no faith – they have merely floated along, enjoying life.  And really, if the Christian life promised easy living and no end to happiness on earth, no one would object to it and everyone would believe.  Who doesn’t want a religion that’s just a magic genie? 

But my God is no magic genie.  As C.S. Lewis said of his allegorical lion Aslan, “He is not a tame lion.  But he is good.”  He is not tame, and no one can control him.  But he is good.  And he loves me – far too much to allow me to remain in my imperfect state, far too much to not test me, refine me, and turn me into pure gold, into the likeness of his Son.  After all, it is the child he loves that he disciplines.  This is scary for me to acknowledge, because it means I am not exempt from trials and pain.  It will come. 

Of course, all this is easy for me to say while my life has, as yet, been unmarked by tragedy or any especial hardship.  Sure, I’ve had my struggles, and I’ve grown from them.  And I tend to take everything for granted and think, you know, a bad day counts as a “storm”, or complain to God about my sore throat.

Really, Megan?  Really? 

The other facet of trials that I conveniently overlook is that it must, by definition, involve pain.  You can see the above for my definition of pain – sore throat.  Which absolutely does not fit the bill. 

There are many times at college when I feel lonely; when despite the many sweet friends I’ve made I feel left out and alone.  I know it’s very common for new freshmen to feel this way – after all, we’ve been uprooted, and one can’t develope the deep friendships we’ve left at home in a matter of weeks.  But still, I’m lonely.  It hurts, God, I cry.  Won’t you please take it away?

And I hear his understanding whisper, I know, my child, I know.

And then I remember how much he does understand; how often Jesus was alone; how he was let down and betrayed. 

But still, it hurts. 

But God isn’t going to whisk it away from me, because it’s good for me.  It drives me to him.  It allows him to chip away at some areas of my life that I can usually drown out with friends and social activities.  It gives me more empathy for others.  It’s painful.  But it’s good

And He promises to be there with me, to help me through the valleys and turn sorrows in to joy, to create beauty from the ashes.

I’m learning, even if it’s by oh-so-little bits at a time.

And now, I should learn to get to bed before 1 a.m.  Oh well.  Too late for that one today…

In His grace,


Entry filed under: Uncategorized.

A week of Thanksgiving Of vacations, research, and not posting

1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Joanna  |  November 25, 2009 at 1:47 pm



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