Surprised by Beauty

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That’s the word I heard again and again in response to last week’s post about our struggle with infertility.

I didn’t anticipate seeing a recurring theme of beauty because the past fifteen months have been filled with things I deemed ugly – things like tears, questions, frustration, and doctors appointments.

Fast forward to this morning when I woke up feeling off.  Everything in me was prepared to unravel.  My mind raced, and I was on the verge of throwing today away before it even started.  I’ve been tossed around by the unpredictable waves of emotion more times than I can count, and I didn’t have the energy to fight it again.  I was ready to drown.

Out of nowhere the physical sensation of weightiness came over my heart.  To my surprise, I sensed it was a good kind of heaviness, but it took me a minute to make sense of the situation.

An anchor.

God was keeping me steady, refusing to let me be blown around by feelings.  Without missing a beat, I heard myself whisper a one-word response: beautiful.

That’s when my eyes opened.

It’s not that ugliness is beautiful or evil is good, because that isn’t the case at all.  But sometimes we need an up-close view of the ugliness in and around us before we can really see the beauty of the One who is with us.

A couple thousand years ago, a storm on the Sea of Galilee endangered the lives of Jesus and His disciples.  In their case, the waves weren’t a metaphor but were actually threatening the stability of their boat.  The severity of the situation sent the disciples on a frenzied search for Jesus, who was eventually spotted asleep in the stern.  As they roused Him from sleep, someone blurted out, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?” (Mark 4:38).  The wind and waves were stilled at Jesus’ command, and the disciples’ lives were spared.

In the moment I’m sure the apostles would’ve preferred to avoid the storm altogether, but I wonder if it became a cherished memory over time.  Against the backdrop of the wind and waves, the disciples had a front row seat to a display of matchless power and intimate concern.

Sure, Jesus could’ve told them He was powerful and assured them of His love.  But we know better, don’t we?  Sometimes it takes a storm for us to be convinced.

The One who stilled the sea later bore the weight of the world’s ugliness in ways we can’t even imagine.  The scene surrounding His death on the cross was horrific, but the terrible sight of Good Friday paved the way for the miracle of Easter Sunday.  On the third day, a victorious Savior emerged from the grave and upended the status quo.

Life instead of death.  Joy instead of mourning.  Beauty instead of ashes.

This world is broken and ugly, but that’s not the whole story.  Rend Collective sings it well: “The dark is just a canvas for Your grace and brightness.”  The Wind Silencer and Grave Conqueror is still “the God who works wonders” (Psalm 77:14).  If we’re willing to keep our eyes open, we’ll see Him at work.

And you better believe He’s beautiful.

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