Suffering and Beauty

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mr and mrs mallard

The last month or so has been hard. Oklahoma. Boston. Texas. Gavin. Zach. There were more instances of individuals sharing their stories with me than normal. My days have been peppered with stories of folks hurting and in pain, both publicly and in private.

Life is so full of pain and sadness. I catch mere glimpses of that pain in other peoples’ lives. I cry many tears.

My own struggles seem so minor in comparison.

I’ve also seen beauty in those ashes. People who helped. Grace amidst grieving. Recovery. Hope. Forgiveness.

When I was a child, our next-door neighbor, Fayrene, a mother of boys, would come over in the mornings to watch my mom brush the rat’s nest out of my hair. She was a girly-girl and didn’t have girl heads to brush. In her Texas drawl, Fayrene would respond to my whines and cries with the refrain,

“Jessie, y’all just have to suffer to be beautiful.”

Of course, she was referring to physical beauty. But, I see that it has deeper meaning, meaning that Fayrene never possibly envisioned.

Honestly? I think about that and I think: I don’t want to be beautiful. Not if it hurts. Not if it hurts this bad. Not if families are ripped apart.

And then the verse comes to mind,

Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. — 2 Corinthians 12:9

I see that in the efforts of folks who’ve loved and supported the victims in Oklahoma, Boston, and Newtown. I see that in Katie’s brave journey through loss and grieving. I see that in the many people who hurt and sorrow and yet continue to fight the good fight every day.

The other day my ten-year old said, “You know if I had a time machine, I wouldn’t use it. Because even though bad things happen, I know that God brings good out of those bad things. If I undid the bad things, I’d be undoing the good things God did, too.”

I pray fervently that I could have that faith, take that comfort, be brave enough to boast in weaknesses, to remember that God really does got this thing.

Oh! that Christ would be all sufficient in my life to carry me through the storms Life is sure to bring.

May He be more than sufficient in your life, too.

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  1. Beautiful Jessica! Couldn’t have said it any better. It is so hard to think that way sometimes though, but with faith we get through.

  2. Thanks so much for sharing this. It confirms my suspicion that when God wants you to “get” something, you’ll get it in lots of forms and contexts. He’s been bringing this idea to the forefront for me these past few months. God IS sufficient, and as counterintuitive as it seems, suffering is necessary to make us more like Christ. Paul actually said he WANTED to share in His sufferings so that he could know Christ! You AND your 10-year-old are very wise. 🙂

  3. I appreciate your post very much. Love how you’ve weaved together words for life from your neighbor as she helped you tame the tangles, profound insight from your 10 yr. old and God’s unchanging Word. Remembering the milestones, the benchmarks, of God’s faithfulness and provision help me as I look ahead. I’m reminded that He was and is the same today and forever. He is sufficient.