How Beauty Comes from Pain

The fragrance from crumpled petals.

It wasn’t my church, and it wasn’t my people, but a friend told me what happened that Sunday after church. Half a century later, I still remember. I remember the beauty that came from the fragrance of crumpled petals. Beauty from pain!

The older lady stopped to speak to a group of girls standing outside church one Sunday morning. A woman of graciousness and character, she moved with assuredness and certainness. Grace knew who she was and to Whom she belonged.

Some things had happened in their church and folks were still reeling from the aftershock of pain. Relationships were strained and restoration seemed bleak.

Did Grace perhaps sense the discouragement of these teenage girls as she stopped to speak to them? Over a few minutes’ span, she chatted with them about day-to-day things. Nobody mentioned the pain or what had happened. Yet the elephant was there in the room. The one thing that brought pain; the pain that nobody knew what to do with, the pain about which nobody knew how to pray anymore. Could beauty possibly come from such pain?

Better, Not Bitter

Finally, Grace spoke to the experience they all were avoiding. “I want you girls to know I am praying that God can use the things that have happened to make you better and not bitter.” That was all.  She turned and walked away.

The girls knew the hurt Grace had experienced over the years: torn family relationships, children who walked away from God, and the pain of strained relationships. One would think, from watching Grace, that life had been easy for her. She was always sweet, kind, and gentle. Her face belied the nights she had stayed awake to pray for her wayward child, the days she had cried for answers when no answers came, and the years her prayers had gone unanswered. Yet, she stayed the course and she kept praying.

Instead of becoming bitter, she allowed her pain to make her a better person. Grace allowed pain to make her kind and compassionate. She cared about others. The pain she experienced made her better. God used that pain – because she allowed Him – to make her more gentle, more caring, and more easily able to notice the pain of others. She allowed the crushing of the petals to exude fragrance and rest.

When Grace told these girls her desire for better instead of bitter, they knew what she meant. They had watched her walk through valleys of sorrow; they had watched the pain of brokenness change her hair from black to gray in a few short months. They had seen the wrinkles increase on her face, but they had also seen the beauty shining through that pain. Was it because she spent time with Jesus? Having seen and felt her spirit, these girls wanted to become like her.

Crushing Brings Beauty and Fragrance

It is the crushing of the rose petals that brings out the fragrance.  The sweetness of her spirit remained after she walked away.

Grace isn’t here anymore. When she went to Heaven to be with Jesus, some of her prayers had been answered. Some of them were still there, at the Throne of God, like incense before her Lord. When I think I Grace, I remember the fragrance of her spirit.

She didn’t allow the pain in her life to push her away from God. Instead, she allowed that pain to push her toward Him.

I want to become like Grace because she embodied character traits of Jesus. I want the pain in my life to push me toward God instead of away. I want to allow Him to use the pain to make me better and not bitter.

beauty from pain

The Potter’s Wheel and Broken Pieces

I want to allow Him to put me back on the potter’s wheel and remake me, patching up the broken, rough edges. Over and over, God uses our brokenness to shape us into His character so we can become like Him. When we’re broken into pieces, He doesn’t throw those pieces away. When our dreams are gone or are so shattered there is no mending or repairing, He takes those broken pieces and gives renewed hope and vision. He gives us new dreams.

If we ask Him and allow Him, He scoops us up and puts us back on the Potter’s wheel. In the turning and molding, He shapes us into what He wants us to become.

No pain is too great that He cannot use it.

beauty from pain

Life is an opportunity to let Him shape us into becoming like Jesus. This is not easy and sometimes it is downright hard. When we’re emptied and broken, when we’re wounded and crushed, He never quits. He continues to mold us and make us worthy because He does not throw the clay away. Grace modeled this for those girls.

Let Brokenness Become a Fragrance

If you’re struggling with brokenness today, listen to this song. Ask God to make of you a vessel of honor. Ask Him to produce fragrance from the crushing so that you, too, can become molded into His image. Your sweetness will be a fragrance to those around you.

The SONG “Emptied and Broken”

The Words by Gene Reasoner

Emptied and broken, I came back to Him

A vessel unworthy and so scarred with sin.

But He did not despair, He started over again

And I bless the day He didn’t throw the clay away.

Chorus:

Over and over, He molds me and makes me

Into His likeness, He fashions the clay.

A vessel of honor I am today,

All because Jesus didn’t throw the clay away.

 

He is the Potter and I am the clay

Molded in His  image, He wants me to stay.

But when I stumble and I fall, and my vessel breaks,

He just picks up the pieces, He doesn’t throw the clay away.

The Song

To listen to this song, click on this link.

Pinterest How BEAUTY comes from pain

 

 

 

 

“Sweet Through It All”

When I started to pray, “Please keep me sweet through it all,” it changed my focus from me and my pain to God and what He could do.

Forty years.  It’s been forty years since I got that letter from a friend, a note of encouragement during an upheaval in my life.  At the end of the note, she wrote, “I pray God that He will keep you sweet through it all.”

That became my prayer, and this poem was birthed from that prayer from that note.  It’s been my prayer many times since when I’ve been caught in the riptide of a trial.

A few days ago a friend asked me for a copy of this poem.  She remembered it from a devotional I had shared twenty-plus years ago but couldn’t remember all the words.  Of course, I’d be glad to send it to her, I said.

Then I thought  .  .  .  maybe there is someone else out there who needs this poem today.

Here it is, my friend.  Just for you.

Keep Me Sweet

The tree beside my window has a story to tell

Of storms and cloudy weather – how it stood and never fell.

Forgiving, believing and trusting through it all.

Let me, like my tree, grow stronger through it all.

A rainbow in its beauty is seen through eyes of tears,

And the diamond of stones after the toil of many years.

I would be a tender blossom through summer, spring, and fall –

Sending sweetest fragrance through it all.

There are questions, there are heartaches! I have wept in bitter tears.

Heal my spirit, touch me gently, brush away all my fears.

Keep me beautiful and yielded – let me Your life recall,

And somehow, keep me sweet through it all.

sweeet-diamond

Transform in me Your image – Your pearl of great price;

Though I’m just a tiny vessel, I’m a diamond in Your eyes!

Use these trials to develop eternal qualities in me.

Dear Jesus, through it all, keep me sweet.

sweet-eternal-quality-red-flower-water-drops

Keep me humble and willing this cross to bear;

Keep me holding Your hand, let me know that You care.

Keep me trusting and believing, whatever may befall,

And Jesus, keep me sweet through it all.

Lord Jesus, keep me sweet through it all.

Sweet, sweet Jesus, keep me sweet through it all.