At the feet of the mother of a young cancer survivor, I marveled. I was amazed by the peace and trust in her testimony, touched by the faith of a sixteen-year-old boy who lost his leg to bone cancer, and absolutely awed by the God who made it possible.
Then, at nineteen years old, I realized that I didn’t know pain. Struggles had come and gone in nearly two decades, but I had only brushed the fringes of pain. Sitting at that mother’s feet, listening to her story, I was awed by a God who appoints pain. But I was not disillusioned by the classic question of “How could a God of love do this?” Instead, I saw His love. In the words of a woman who has been wrapped tightly in the Lord’s hands, I saw the beauty of Christ’s love.
It was a beauty magnified by pain.
Birth is beautiful because the pain brings forth life. Salvation is precious because it is only possible, only efficacious, through agony. My Savior’s horrific, gruesome, awesome, life-giving sacrifice permanently defeated death and hell. With it, pain loses its sting.
There is still pain and suffering so ugly, so heart wrenching that we despair of victory. In the unheard cry of every aborted baby, in the silent tears of abused children, in the empty eyes and hopeless hearts left in the wake of war’s devastation, death, sorrow, and pain seem to conquer.
But I know that my Redeemer lives. Not only that, but after hearing the testimony of a mother, of a courageous son, a faithful God, I see more of the canvas of human history. The bloody red of suffering, the crystal blue of tears, the shadows of despair mixed by the Artist of history—all point to the Light.
The Light of the world delights to transform darkness into radiance. He revels in bringing the sweetness of beauty out of the bitterness of pain.
For, you see, Love never fails.
“Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.” –Ephesians 5:1-2