Life is beautiful… Stop and smell the roses… Life is a bowl of cherries… Those are easy things to say when life is going your way. But what about when you are feeling the pressures or dark days of life? I’ve spoken to a few people recently that were going through really difficult times. Illnesses, relational strains, financial struggles, sorrows and other situations were weighing them down. Uncertainty and disappointments were taking the place of joy and creativity. Life in times of pain doesn’t look so beautiful. When the clouds are looming and the pressures are mounting, the happy days you dream about and the reality of life seem worlds apart. It can seem futile to try to find beauty in the rubble of life’s hurt. We often can be tempted to drown our sorrows in denial, destructive habits and negative thinking. It can seem like God has forsaken us.
One of the tender things God has done for us is to give us beauty amidst the storms of life. Recognizing beauty in our surroundings can work like a balm to soothe the pain of life and keep our focus on God’s love and care for us. I think of the rainbow, colors streaming through the dark sky as a glorious reminder of the promises of God. It is a beautiful symbol that can help us visualize God’s presence and grace in times of darkness and difficulty. If we accept beauty as a gift from God, we can take part in the mysterious connection between seeing beauty and sensing God’s love for us.
Here is a wonderful quote:
“In all ranks of life the human heart yearns
for the beautiful;
and the beautiful things
that God makes are His gift to all alike.”
—Harriet Beecher Stowe
When I was going through a dark period in my own life, I felt that small inner yearning for beauty. Yet, beauty felt distant. All around me I felt darkness, sadness and disappointment. But instead of running to numb my wounds in a destructive way, I grabbed a hold of that small yearning as something God placed in me for a reason. I took a step of faith toward connecting to God through the beauty in life. I headed out to the garden center and bought spring flowers to brighten my dark and dreary front walkway. I felt such spiritual symbolism in taking that step towards something beautiful. I was reaching out to God and He met me right there amidst the petunias! Those flowers were His gift to me. Beauty was reassurance in visual form that He was in control and would carry me right through the darkest hours.
It was a small step, planting those spring flowers, but an important one. With a beautiful front walkway, my focus started to change. I swept the front porch and stepped back to take a look. God was right there saying, “See? I made these flowers for your enjoyment! Don’t you see that I am caring for you even in the small details of life?” With the outside of my home more colorful and cheery, my world felt a little brighter. I knew God was with me, encouraging me to trust Him in spite of how bleak things had looked the day before.
After admiring the work that God and I had accomplished in the yard, I walked in the house. I turned back to look at the view from my window. The beauty was still there. Finding beauty that day didn’t change my outward circumstances, but it changed my inner world and perspective. That small dose of beauty, God’s gift to me, reminded me that God was bigger than my circumstances. He knew exactly what I needed and made me flowers to soothe my heartache. I just had to reach out and take them and see them as God’s gift.
With the bouquet of beauty from God I took a deep breath and started to put my world back in order. The connection between finding beauty in the outer world and the connection to God in my inner world was profound. Suddenly I realized I could choose to have a life marked by order and beauty rather than chaos and hurt. Still unable to change the original circumstances, I felt empowered to look at my world through God’s eyes. God wanted me to see beauty in the process of refining my life. I disciplined myself to trust in God’s plan by surrounding myself with daily reminders of the God I wanted to serve—the God who created the Heavens and the Earth in perfect order, the God who made colors and scents and textures for our enjoyment, who made birds to sing and a brilliant sun to shine through the clouds and rain, and the God who made a bouquet of flowers just for me.
“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father…”
©2008, Melissa Michaels
Garden Photos, Melissa Michaels