Last Thursday, I hosted a Moms' Night Out for the moms at my church who have children with special needs. We had such a blessed night! The following is the devotional that I shared that evening.
For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven. He has made everything beautiful in its time (Ecclesiastes 3:1, 11a). When I read this passage and think of the moment when I gave birth to my son at 25 weeks gestation, the word beautiful doesn't come to mind. Nor did it come to mind when my son had his 1st seizure in my arms at 9 months. Nor did it come to mind when we found out that he had glaucoma in both eyes. Likewise, beautiful is definitely not the word that I would use to describe the day that my son was officially given the mental retardation label. However, God’s Word tells us that God has made everything beautiful in its - His perfect - time.
If God makes all things beautiful, that means all our suffering & pain are included. Jesus Christ is the most beautiful person in existence. So as a believer, God’s goal is to make us into the likeness of His beautiful son Jesus. God can use our very ugly circumstances through the power of His cross to produce beauty in our hearts if we allow Him to work in us. God turns these circumstances into something beautiful for our good as we become conformed to the image of His Son (Rom 8:28-29). Therefore the circumstances may never change, but our hearts can. As He makes us more like Jesus, we can have joy in the midst of our pain because we are becoming more mature in Christ Jesus (James 1:2-4).
I attend our church's summer Bible study where we watch the DVDs from the True Woman Conference. This morning we heard Joni Eareckson Tada speak. She said this statement, “Now, I’m not glorifying the suffering it takes to polish my faith. But ladies, I am glorifying the God whose image is reflected on the surface of any smile, my smile, that might be hard fought for through pain or problems. If you want God’s glory to be your shine, girls, it will be on His terms.” She basically described Isaiah 48:10-11 which says that God uses affliction to refine us for our good & His glory.
Even though we may not think of our hard circumstances as being beautiful we can trust our Faithful Father. His purposes will prevail. The puritan, Matthew Henry, gives his thoughts on Ecclesiastes 3:11 –
Every thing is as God has made it; it is really as he appointed it to be, not as it appears to us. That which to us seems most unpleasant is yet, in its proper time, altogether becoming. There is a wonderful harmony in the divine Providence and all its disposals, so that the events of it, when they come to be considered in their relations and tendencies, together with the seasons of them, will appear very beautiful, to the glory of God and the comfort of those that trust in him. Though we see not the complete beauty of Providence, yet we shall see it, and a glorious sight it will be, when the mystery of God shall be finished. Then every thing shall appear to have been done in the most proper time and it will be the wonder of eternity. (Matthew Henry's Complete Commentary on the Whole Bible - Ecclesiastes 3)
May the beauty of our Lord Jesus Christ be reflected in each of our lives through the joy as well as the pain!