Beauty in Hard Places

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There is something about pain that can bring out the worst in us, don’t you think? And there is something about walking through hard places that can make us feel ugly, and make the world around us look ugly also, don’t you think? There is something about the darkness of our hard places that makes us forget to hang onto the light, don’t you think? Do you ever feel like you’re drowning in hard places, and like the life and breath are getting sucked out of you? Oh, if you could only come up for air – for breath – for even a single breath of anything beautiful. There is something about hard places, isn’t there, that makes us feel like we’re going to be stuck in them forever. I’ve spent so much of my life struggling in hard places, seeing anything and everything but beauty. So stuck. So hard. So everything but beautiful. In the past 24 hours, for the first time ever in my life, I received some incredibly hard news and discovered breathtaking beauty in the midst of it all.

I can only imagine somebody reading this with eager anticipation for me to share what incredibly hard news I received. Let’s face it. We live in a world in which even the most virtuous of us have at least a little fascination with hearing other people’s news. It gives us a refreshing breather from our own lives, and news, doesn’t it? So I hate to disappoint anyone who wants to hear my incredibly hard news, but I’m not writing this piece to share my news. I’m writing it to share my amazing discovery in the midst of my really hard place with the hope that others will find what it has taken me decades to discover when it comes to hard places.

The beauty in the midst of it all are not my circumstances, nor my challenges, not my hurdles, nor my obstacles. The beauty isn’t the hope that things will turn out differently. The beauty isn’t that somehow the hard news will go away. The beauty isn’t that I got what I desperately didn’t want, or that I didn’t get what I desperately wanted. The beauty isn’t that God didn’t answer my prayer birthed out of virtually 20 years of relentless challenge. The beauty isn’t in the hard place at all. But the beauty is in the midst of the hard place. There is nothing beautiful about the hard place. The beauty is in the Lord.

But how can I find beauty in the Lord in the midst of hard places? By loving Him, trusting Him, beholding Him, staring at Him, looking to Him, seeking Him, coming to Him, running to Him, receiving from Him, giving to Him, being still before Him, resting in Him, dancing with Him, delighting in Him, marveling about Him, being amazed by Him, seeing Him for who He is, witnessing His majesty, remarking on His magnificence, sharing Him, speaking of Him, studying Him, learning of Him, telling people about Him, having faith in Him, thinking of Him, being renewed in Him, refreshed in Him, revived by Him, restored by Him, strengthened by Him and in Him, pouring out my Heart to Him, hearing His heart as He speaks to me, rejoicing in Him, praising Him, worshiping Him even, yes, even, even right in the hard places of my life.

None of this is contingent on my circumstances, is it? None of it is conditional on coming out of my hard places, is it?

How about you? When was the last time you stopped, breathed, rested, and rejoiced as you beheld the beauty of the Lord – even in your hard places?

“One thing I ask from the LORD, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple ” Psalm 27:4

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