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.