Does Suffering = True Beauty?

Psalm 95:7 w Sheep


The CNN story of terminally ill Brittany Maynard is making headlines this week as she chooses to end her life on her own terms. This can be her choice in the state of Oregon, which is one of only five states that allow access to assisted suicide services.

There is another woman battling terminal cancer, too. Her name is Kara Tippetts. She writes a letter to Brittany as one who understands what living with a terminal diagnosis means. Kara asks her to reconsider her decision.

I am deeply moved by Kara’s letter to Brittany. You can read it here on Ann Voskamp’s blog. These words from that letter, in particular, struck me forcefully,

Dear heart, we simply disagree. Suffering is not the absence of goodness, it is not the absence of beauty, but perhaps it can be the place where true beauty can be known.” (Kara Tippetts)

Reading these stories this morning has tears streaming down my face and a wound in my heart. I feel for these women that are faced with living and dying with cancer. I do not have cancer and can’t begin to understand what that is like for Brittany or Kara or the many others that have known this horrible disease. But I agree with Kara because I know God cares about our pain. He cares so much about us because He created us and loves us deeply.

Kara is a believer. She has faith that God is there in the midst of her suffering. She knows she will go to a better place where there is no pain and suffering. No tears. No death.

Our culture is continually grasping at life in a futile and desperate attempt to extend our age, to remain unwrinkled and looking youthful as long as possible; to be in control of how we age, if we age, and how we die. Such a struggle to control something that is not in our control is an incredible pressure to succumb to all of our days. And then, if we do not meet society’s standards of beauty, youth, fame, status, or strength, we are declared useless and of no value.

Christ allows us the opportunity to live free of these burdens. In the CNN video, Kenneth Goodman, the Director of the University of Miami Bioethics Progam, states that “Life is precious and so is liberty.” I agree with Kenneth’s statement, just not his conclusion. God showed just how precious life is by sending His own son to die for us on a terrible cross. Yet, as His disciples, He gives us the opportunity to live freely in Christ – giving over the control to Him where we don’t have to worry about decisions about death, only living and dying in Him.

You may not have cancer or any circumstance so dramatic in your life, but your pain and your story matter, too. Through Christ our pain and suffering can be made beautiful because they matter to God. And, God cares for His own. How we live in Him is our focus.

Psalm 95:7 – For He is our God, and we are the people of His pasture, the sheep under His care.”

The Hardest PlaceRead Kara’s book, The Hardest Place, to learn more about how she has faced the devastating reality of stage-four cancer.

Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him and praise His name. For Yahweh is good, and His love is eternal; His faithfulness endures through all generations.
Psalm 100:4-5 (HCSB)

Haitian Gate

“I’m singing joyful praise to God. I’m turning cartwheels of joy to my Savior God.”

Habakkuk 3:18 MSG


2014 – A Fresh Beginning

New Year Book QuoteA brand new year has begun.
A fresh beginning.

There are many ways to begin. Movements such as “One Word,” “One Scripture, “Infusion Words,” and goal setting are all over the internet. Which ones will help us be all we can in 2014? How to pick the right one for you?

I can’t answer that for you, however, I do know one thing is true: words are powerful. Words bring grace into our lives. Words can also bring sorrow. Words bring us joy.

With words we make promises, we make deals, we seal marriages and say goodbye to loved ones. Using words we create friendships and enemies. Words are meaningful. They are not just ink on a page or wasted breath. Words affect us.

So whatever method you choose – just begin. There is no right way. Choose what connects you to what you want in 2014. Choose what makes you come alive. Prayerfully give it consideration and then begin.

I have chosen to do several methods because that’s what works for me. I am beginning this new year with:

My One Word = Praise

My 2014 Scripture Focus = Habakkuk 3:18 MSG

I’m singing joyful praise to God. I’m turning cartwheels of joy to my Savior God.”

I haven’t created all my goals yet for the year, but each one will be prayed over and connected to my focus for the year – Praise! I want to make sure that God is at the center of everything I do. Praising Him is a great way to begin!

The Book: My One Word

Noah’s Ark

Colorful Birds

Colorful Birds


Noah’s Ark — Everything I need to know, I learned from Noah’s Ark.

  I received this in my inbox today and thought it was so delightful that I would pass it on. I don’t know whom to credit as the author, but these are wise words of wisdom we could all use.

  1. Don’t miss the boat.
  2. Remember that we are all in the same boat!
  3. Plan ahead. It wasn’t raining when Noah built the Ark.
  4. Stay fit. When you’re 60 years old, someone may
    ask you to do something really big.
  5. Don’t listen to critics;
    just get on with the job that needs to be done.
  6. Build your future on high ground.
  7. For safety’s sake, travel in pairs.
  8. Speed isn’t always an advantage.
    The snails were on board with the cheetahs.
  9. When you’re stressed, float awhile.
  10. Remember, the Ark was built by amateurs;
    the Titanic by professionals.
  11. No matter the storm, when you are with God,
    there’s always a rainbow waiting.