Friday, January 22, 2016

Seeking Beauty in...Difficult Times

This post is part of a continuing series called Seeking Beauty.  To see all the posts in this series, click here.

Sometimes, its hard for me to find the right words, and this post is a perfect example. How can I communicate how to seek beauty in the middle of tough times?  Sure, I could tell you stories.  Stories of children with cancer, other children gone too soon.  Of sickness, violence, addiction.  God has blessed me with an overdeveloped sense of empathy, so stories stick with me.  I often have to pray over strangers before the story of their suffering will recede in my mind.  And if you are like me, looking around at the chaos and destruction and suffering in our world, you are calling out, "Why?  Why do such terrible things happen to innocent people?  Why is there such suffering?"

I wrote a post a couple of years ago about that "why." It is actually one of my most popular posts.  It is called Pain and you can read it here.  It takes first steps in explaining why, as a person of faith, I believe suffering exists.  The headline: suffering is the necessary consequence of free will.  It results from a fallen world.  And, more importantly, this: when we suffer, we have a chance to look upon the face of God. 

So, this post isn't about why.  It's more how.  How to see beauty in a world that is so messed up.  I think--and of course you are free to share if you disagree--the only real way to do it is by looking for Jesus.  Sometimes the most beautiful moments I have with the Lord come directly out of difficult times.  A painful experience which will cause me to seek Him, to witness His work in my life, to be acutely aware of His presence.  This has happened for me especially as friendships ebb and flow, and that stinkin' empathy catches up with me.

For many of us, we had to get pretty low in order to lift our eyes to Heaven and acknowledge our weakness.  I want you to know that I searched for years before coming to Jesus.  I researched and read and visited churches and other places of worship.  I had a lot of knowledge...and it didn't get me very far.  What did?  Sinking into a deep pit of depression and loneliness, and crying out for a God I still hadn't acknowledged to help me.  And when he was Jesus.  I truly couldn't believe it, and honestly didn't want it to be Jesus.  Until that point, I was sure Christians were a hypocritical and judgmental bunch, not to mention wrong.

But then, when Jesus claimed me from the edge of a cliff and started opening my eyes, I experienced true relief from suffering for the first time in my entire life.  I began to learn from him, lean on him, trust him as he led me forward to belief, baptism, and a life with him.  I could not have experienced that immense beauty without first suffering.  BUT.  I had to look to him, too.  I couldn't reject him anymore.  I had to open up his word and read it.  I (being hyper analytical) also had to try and understand some of the mysteries I found there.  And then, I also had to learn to trust when understanding wasn't coming.

Paul talked about suffering a thorn in his flesh (some kind of suffering) which he pleaded with Jesus to take away from him.  Instead, Paul was told "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness."  Paul concluded, "That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties.  For when I am weak, then I am strong."  2 Cor. 12: 7-10.

If this seems completely contradictory to you, you are right.  Jesus can be that way sometimes. His logic is not the same as our's better.  And we are in no way promised an end to our suffering here on earth, that is very clear.  Jesus tells us, "In this world you will have trouble. But take heart!  I have overcome the world."  John 16:33.  He knows we will go through trying times, and he's looking for you, even there.

Want to find beauty even in the middle of difficult times?  Look for him.

This is heavy stuff.  Please feel free to comment publicly or send me a private message at thatmommyblog{at}gmail{dot}com if you have any thoughts to share.

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  1. Too many times I keep having such a hard time understanding why our Grandson has cancer again. He got testicular cancer when he was barely 14, fought cancer for almost 4 more years. Then he was in remission til this past summer when it was discovered he has blood cancer in his liver and lungs. both full of tumors. He was 22 in early Nov. and has been thru so much, chemo, stem cell transplant, more chemo.
    He was losing his eye sight from something to do with chemo, since he got sick again, losing his hearing.
    They took him up to New York for a possible new treatment to no avail. He has to go around wearing a mask all the time, has lost lots of weight.
    We only know what we see and read on his Facebook page. We're not allowed to see him, (I haven't seen him in over 3 1/2 yrs. They live just few miles away in Grand Junction. He mother deletes my messages to him. She's blocked our whole family. anybody that won't kiss her butt and knows her for evil person she is. She has fit when she finds out I called my son to find out how he's doing. Nobody dares oppose her as she finds ways to hurt them, makes their lives miserable. My son told his younger sister this when he was going to divorce her just before they found out their son had cancer, She had been cheating on my son for months with guy she worked with. They kids couldn't find her, she left them without food or money for days without them knowing how to find her. He was 13 and his sister almost 17. DIL told me what she'd done was none of our business but people in town (in mortgage business) knew all about it.

    I try to keep believing our grandson will not be punished for her evil. How do I keep believing in anything? I'ts very hard when she keeps getting away with what she does, won't even let us let grandson know we love him and are here for him. He always loved it that I'd give him big hugs and kisses, tell him how much he meant to us. If you would feel better bout deleting this email. Am sorry but your post really touched me. I have always believed in God, still do but wonder why we are being punished this way. She has caused so much hurt and bad feelings within our family, turning couple of my kids against us. She likes to tell me what a terrible mother I was. If you decide to delete this i will certainly understand

    1. Thank you for sharing. It sounds like this has been such a difficult season for you. I will pray for your grandson and for you, and hoping that you begin to see grace instead of just punishment. Best wishes.


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