Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. –James 1:2-4
I came upon a touching story from the book, The Best of Bits and Pieces (Economic Press) and I’m passing it along to you.
“Although Henri Matisse was nearly 28 years younger than Auguste Renoir, the two great artists were dear friends and frequent companions. When Renoir was confined to his home during the last decade of his life, Matisse visited him daily. Renoir, almost paralyzed by arthritis, continued to paint in spite of his infirmities using a brush strapped to his arm.
One day as Matisse watched the elder painter working in his studio, fighting torturous pain with each brush stroke, he blurted out: ‘Auguste, why do you continue to paint when you are in such agony?’ Renoir answered simply: ‘The beauty remains, the pain passes.’
And so, almost to his dying day, Renoir put paint to canvas. One of his most famous paintings, Bathers, was completed just two years before his passing, 14 years after he was stricken by this disabling disease.”
Renoir could have easily put away his brush and canvas years before when the disease grew worse. He could have become bitter about his life’s situation and given up. He didn’t. Renoir saw beyond the pain to the beauty.
Like the beautiful painting that was created from pained hands, I believe that God wants to take the painful experiences of our lives and create something beautiful in us. This does not minimize, trivialize or spiritualize the pain. Renoir’s arthritis was real. You and I experience real pain in life. Sometimes that pain is physical, but most often emotional. Still, if we allow God to work in us, He will use our painful experiences to shape our lives and form us into something more beautiful—ultimately into the image of Jesus.
Today, when you encounter pain, look beyond the situation and its cause and seek to persevere. Look for God at work to bring beauty beyond the pain.
1. What recent or current life circumstance has been painful to you?
2. Consider how God may be at work in this situation to ultimately produce something beautiful in your life or in the lives of others.
Romans 5:3-5; 8:18, 28-29; 1 Peter 4:12-13; Hebrews 12:15