As I’ve gotten older, I’ve come to a definite conclusion…sometimes, life is hard. I’ve watched loved ones suffer, watched the world deteriorate and felt the pain that life often brings. But, in those times of darkness, I’ve also seen real beauty…the glimpses of something radiant through the rain. Those glimpses seem to shine all the brighter in the midst of suffering, like a vibrant rainbow visible only after a storm.
Beauty is my friend, who patiently cares for her husband, who is dying of ALS. It is the pain on her face as she agonizes over wanting him to linger forever, and wanting his suffering to end. Beauty is the love that shines in her eyes as she tends to his physical needs and tries to keep their family functioning.
Beauty is my mother, enduring breast cancer without self-pity. Beauty is her enduring painful recovery from surgery without complaint, then turning around, as soon as she is able, to pass on the kindnesses she’s received to others who are hurting.
It is watching my church family rally around someone who is struggling and meeting the needs of those who are suffering. It is the Sunday school teachers who patiently teach each week, loving the children and teaching them about Jesus. Beauty is watching the faces of those gathered each week to worship together, lifting their hearts and voices in praise to their Creator.
Beauty is the look on my husband’s face as he gazes on our sleeping children. It is the patience as he gently teaches them to play a guitar chord, or change the oil in a car, or to fix a computer. It is the tenderness in his hands as he gathers them close for a moment, to hug, or tickle or tease.
I saw beauty in the lines on my grandmother’s face, earned by years of loving her family and providing for them, no matter what life brought her way. It was in the wrinkles on her hands from decades of hard work, serving those she loved. It was the gray of her hair, witness to the many trials she bore with grace and courage.
Beauty is a young mother, too exhausted to even sleep, yet patiently tending her children with a loving and gentle spirit. It is in a prayer offered up for guidance, feeling overwhelmed and yet determined to be all that her young children need. It is choosing to read one more story, give one more hug, instead of rushing off to fold laundry or wash dishes.
Beauty is my parents, celebrating almost 48 years of marriage, and the spark that still lights up their hearts. It is my father, tenderly caring for his bride when she is healing from surgery. It is my mother, meeting my father’s needs before he is even aware of having them. It is the beauty of commitment promised and honored without flagging.
None of these things would exist without the beauty of the One that surpasses all of these…a God who loves without failing, forgives without limit, and gives grace without recompense. They are a testament of who He is, and how He reaches down to each of us, in tenderness and compassion. So the next time you are overwhelmed with the difficulty of life, open your eyes a little wider and look around you…there is beauty to be found here on earth, in the shadow of heaven.
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