Beauty In Pain
By Anthony Casperson
I’ll admit it. I didn’t know exactly what God’s moving in my life was all about. “What is this blog/website thing that you’re showing me to do?” I didn’t know exactly what this was all for. And I still really don’t fully know. (Guess I'm a little slow on the relational uptake when it comes to God.)
How am I to take my theological training along with my interests in fantasy and sci-fi books/movies/TV series, video games, board games, art and music and make it into something that makes sense? How do I take my calling to preach and teach others, especially those kept on the fringe (or even totally outcast), and do ministry differently?
And am I really the one to do it? Over 6 months ago I was clinically diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder and Generalized Anxiety Disorder with panic attacks. Can this broken man with many varied interests really be used to help other people?
In the middle of asking these questions, I heard a song: Beauty From Pain by Superchic[k]. The chorus of the song says:
After all this has passed, I still will remain
After I've cried my last, there'll be beauty from pain
Though it won't be today, someday I'll hope again
And there'll be beauty from pain
You will bring beauty from my pain
The concept in the song, that one day God will bring beauty in our lives after the pain is over, is often repeated in churches. “Good will come after you’ve gotten through this trial,” is what we often say. And it’s not really a wrong statement. But I can’t help but feel that pain and darkness and the depths have some place besides being something that we just have to get through.
Sure, these things are as a result of the Fall, but if God uses them in our lives, is there not some part of God’s beauty in the pain. If he truly is with us as he leads us into the valley of death-like shadow, does his radiant beauty not infiltrate one of the enemy’s strongholds?
It’s easy to see pain and even easier to say that things will get better. We as human beings have this innate sense that beauty will come after pain. It’s why we tend to feel unsatisfied when there’s no “happily ever after.” But it’s difficult to see the beauty in pain.
This thought reminds me of a scene from my favorite episode of Doctor Who: Vincent and the Doctor. Near the end of the episode, the Doctor brings Vincent Van Gogh through time to an exhibit devoted to the art of Van Gogh in an effort to make him see the impact his art has on the world centuries after he dies.
The doctor asks the exhibit’s guide (played by Bill Nighy) if he could state in 100 words where he felt Van Gogh rates in the history of art. Nighy then gives, in my estimation, one of the greatest monologues in television history. The end of which says, Van Gogh “transformed the pain of his tormented life into ecstatic beauty. Pain is easy to portray, but to use your passion and pain to portray the ecstasy and joy and magnificence of our world. No one had ever done it before. Perhaps no one ever will again. To my mind, that strange, wild man who roamed the fields of Provence, was not only the world’s greatest artist, but also one of the greatest men who ever lived.”
To see the beauty of the world, the beauty which emanates from God himself, in the midst of the darkness and pain of this messed up, fallen world is almost unheard of. If we cling to God in ecstasy through the torment of the mess of this world, we can become masterpieces of the one who created the beauty that all artists seek to copy.
There is beauty in pain. But God’s beauty doesn’t end there. He transfers that beauty to we who are followers of Jesus as we become more like him. When God looks at us, he doesn’t see the broken human beings tossed about by the darkness and pain of this world, he sees his own beauty reflected back at him.
That’s what I believe God has called me to. To reflect his beauty in the pain of this world. Yeah, it’ll be through my own nerdy personality, but that’s part of the beauty of God.
So, I hope that you keep reading and listening to the words God gives me. And perhaps as you reflect the beauty of God in this world you’ll share with us all. Whether it’s through paintings, drawings, poems, dance, or however you show God’s beauty to the world. Let’s join together in this endeavor of Brushstrokes of a Theonerd. The beauty of God, in the mess of the world, through the lens of a nerd.