“And you know what’s so funny about life? Sometimes, it goes the way you want, and sometimes it doesn’t. And sometimes, when it doesn’t, you find something beautiful.”
Last weekend Susan and I went to see the Broadway musical “Beautiful”, the story of legendary singer-song writer Carole King. It was a great show; very entertaining and enlightening. I didn’t know she wrote as many hits as she did. The fact they were all before 1971 didn’t matter to us because we are that old! (If you are in need of a reality check, try explaining who Carole King is to someone 30 years old or younger.)
The musical opens up with the actress Abby Mueller in the role of Carole King, sitting at the piano, reminiscing about her life. The play is about the trials, betrayals, heartaches, disappointments and eventual triumph of career and life. I am not sure if the quote above are her actual words or just part of the Broadway script, but nevertheless they are poignant and worth reflecting on. It is not a new thought or all that insightful. We can see the same thinking in Scripture and in writings that predate Biblical times. Who has not heard similar sentiments in expressions such as: “When life hands you lemons, make lemonade” or “Every rose has its thorn.”? Sometimes life goes the way you want. Sometimes it does not pan out as you had hoped or dreamed. But, even in the disappointment there is something beautiful to be discovered.
Joseph is one Biblical character that comes to mind. His life plans were totally capsized by his brothers. But through all the years of darkness and suffering he remained faithful to God, living faithfully and obediently in every phase, every season, every twist and turn his life took. He never wavered. And eventually he reaped God’s blessings, rising to prominence in governmental leadership. So he is able to say to his brothers who literally made his life “a living hell”
“Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. “ (Genesis 50: 19 – 21)
Elijah is another Biblical character who finds himself in dire straits, unable to see the light through his own darkness. He is depressed, defeated and suicidal. He thinks he is alone in the world, but God reveals to Elijah, in the beauty of silence and solitude, that his world is small and ego centered. He is not aware but Elisha is waiting in the wings and is one of thousands who are ready to fight along side of Elijah. God says to Elijah:
“Yet I reserve seven thousand in Israel-all whose knees have not bowed down to Baal and whose mouths have not kissed him.” ( 1 Kings 19:18).
The apostle Paul suffered terribly…Beatings, stonings, floggings, shipwrecks, hunger, nakedness, rejection…I can tell you that these were not on his Bucket List. They were not what he had planned for in his life. But God takes these things and uses them for His kingdom so that Paul could write to the Philippians:
“What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ.” (Philippians 4:8)
Life does not guarantee happiness. There are no promises that all your dreams come true, no matter what the Valedictorian of your graduating class told you. As the great Bogotian Theologian Marge Creange repeatedly told her seven kids: “Life isn’t fair so get use to it.” But to grin and bear it is not the answer because it will leave you bitter and resentful. To run from it will only submerge the anger. To isolate yourself will shrink your world. Instead, we put our trust and hope in Christ Jesus. He gives us the strength, the wisdom and the encouragement to face any challenge. Through the Holy Spirit we live above the circumstances and even in the midst of darkness, we experience light, in the midst of confusion He is our certainty, in the storm He is our shelter and in the ugliness He is our beauty.
It may take some looking…It may take some perseverance and some reflection…But in whatever circumstance, season or phase of life you are in God has something beautiful for you. Can you see it?
What do you think? How does it make you feel?