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Episode 57 - Beautifully Tragic


That’s what my friend, Megan, called her experience with brain cancer. Beautifully tragic. She subsequently died from it after fighting for 10 years, but used these words again just a few weeks before she passed away. Why would…or maybe how could she even think to call it “beautiful”? Tragic for sure. But beautiful? She left behind a husband and two precious daughters. And beautiful is the adjective that she used to describe the tragic. How?

I thought about my own experiences - the loss of both of my parents and the loss of my husband. What would I call it? Beautifully Tragic? Again, how could the words beautiful and tragic be put together to describe one’s experiences.? Could beautiful describe the deep pain I’ve felt. How? How is it possible that pain could be beautiful?

Upon reflecting on that, I think the answer is best seen or at least noticed on the other side of the chaos of the event itself and the shock that follows. But it’s there. I promise. The answer to the “how” is found in the ways I’m able to be okay with the unknown. The way I’m okay with being the one, the only one, to make big, financial decisions for myself and my family. The way I’ve learned to navigate life as a single person instead of a couple. But better, the way Brian’s death impacted people both far and wide. From the hope-filled memorial service four years ago to the ways and opportunities I have today to tell people our story, there are precious souls that are being pulled back into the loving arms of God, and some falling into His arms for the first time. Although I’d rather have my cake and eat it too, I believe that this is the better thing. Today, I think Brian would agree.

Tragedy and pain, both, can be beautiful if they bring about results that have a beautiful impact. An eternal impact. Megan knew, that with every treatment, with every surgery, regardless of the outcome, everything provided an opportunity to challenge and/or encourage someone’s faith with her own. She was a light shining in the darkness so that others could shine. So that I could shine.

Right now, a sweet young couple I know, Lindsay and Cole, are advocating for their five-month-old son’s life. Advocating not just in terms of his hospital care, but advocating for him in the spirit realm. They are asking for prayer from anyone and everyone who might mention their son’s name to our Heavenly Father. They are speaking scripture and singing songs of truth over him. But here’s where Megan’s “Beautifully tragic” meets their story. Just like Megan, I’ve seen these parents publicly state that they have resolved themselves that no matter what happens to their precious son - their only son - it is their greatest hope that the tragedy and pain this boy is living through would bring someone else watching into the kingdom of God. Like Megan, this is a different kind of message - advocating - than we’re used to. This is advocating for the kingdom. This is understanding that everything we experience here on earth has a purpose for eternity. This is beauty in the tragedy. It’s the most important beauty that could come of it. It may sound harsh, but you have to realize that the people saying this, Megan, this young couple, along with many others I know are not flippant about the tragedy they were or are facing. They’re not dismissive of the possible and very real dire consequences of the situation. One does not lightly choose the advancement of the kingdom of God as the better thing. This is next level faith.

How does one get there? We’re talking about some very real, very heavy stuff here. Life and death stuff. Precious lives, babies, children. How do we choose the advancement of the kingdom of God as the better thing?

I’m wondering friend. Do you think this way? Do you believe that what you’re experiencing, what you’re going through right now has an impact on eternity? No matter how big or small it is - I’m wondering how differently you might be experiencing your circumstances if you did.

What if we were able to believe that everything that happens in this life and everything that happens to us had a bigger purpose? What If we believed that circumstances in life weren’t random, but part of a bigger plan?

Our response to or experience of our life depends upon the lens through which we see it. How could you look at your circumstance through the lens that God has a bigger plan? Could you? Could you believe that the things that you’re going through right now is God telling His story and revealing His character through you so that others might see and be compelled towards Him? How would that change the way you’re experiencing your life’s circumstances?

Or, are we just too caught up in our own suffering to be able to even consider this?

Just after Brian died, someone said to me, “Oh, this is going to make you so strong. And you are going to be able to help so many people.” Listen, I didn’t want to be strong. Much less help other people. I was struggling to make it through the day. My heart was shattering all over again every time I woke up and realized he wasn’t beside me and it wasn’t just a really bad a dream. The last thing I cared about was how other people were doing at that moment. And I certainly didn’t want to help them. I couldn’t even help me.

As I got passed the initial shock and started re-entering the world, people would begin to tell me how strong I was. I didn’t feel strong. Not at all. In fact, I felt very, very weak. And needy. But little by little, something strong within me emerged. Something strong enough that made me want to help people. Look at that.

Romans 5:3 says, “We rejoice in our suffering knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”

So, Okay, I know if you’re in the thick of it right now; if you’re experiencing loss or grief or struggling with any kind issue, it’s likely that you’re not looking ahead at how resilient or strong this suffering can make you. You’re likely NOT rejoicing in the suffering. And not looking forward to it producing endurance, character, and hope in you. And you’re not really excited about all that will be produced in you so that you can, one day, help someone else out that’s in need. I get it.

In fact, I’m pretty sure Megan, and Lindsay and Cole, no matter how “next-level” their faith may seem, they have times when they worry, and question, and doubt. They are but human. But their lives were fertile grounds for God to do something amazing in and through. It did/has tested their faith. It’s where the rubber meets the road. It’s where you find out if you really believe what you claim to believe.

So if you can’t see it right now for yourself - and that’s okay if you can’t - let me encourage you to let the process work out in you. James 1:4, in talking about suffering, says, “Let perseverance, patience, endurance, steadfastness, have its full effect on you, let it finish its work in you, so that you might be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.” This describes someone whose faith is tested by great trials and stays loyal to his or her faith, even when and if they don’t understand a thing about the whys and the how comes.

Friend, tragedy or trials of all different kinds in life can have a beautiful, transformative impact on us. So it’s not just beautiful for others’ sake, it’s beautiful for our own sake, too. It grows and perfects our faith, creates opportunities for new possibilities that weren’t there before, allows us time and space to discover who we are and just what we’re made of. And makes us and example of hope and encourages others to hold on, push through, persevere, too. All so beautiful. But most importantly, allowing the suffering and the process of growth to have its full effect on us, gives God an opportunity to tell His story. A story of a God, so full of love and mercy for His children, that He would stoop low to be a part of their lives in an intimate and caring way through His Son, Jesus. That He is a God of such fullness that even in the midst of great trials and suffering, He can make the heartbroken feel as if they are perfect and complete, lacking nothing. Just like He did with my friend Megan. Just as He’s doing with my friends, Lindsay and Cole. And just like He’s done for me. All for His glory. The better thing.

Friend, if you’re in the thick of things right now and are not able to see your circumstance through the lens that God has a bigger plan, I’d love to be your coach and mentor and help you work through it. Through one-on-one time together, I’ll help you reframe your story with purpose, and giving you such fullness that you’re lacking nothing.

I’ve put a link in the show notes to my calendar to book at quick 30-minute chat to see if we’re a good fit. Or you can visit my website and send me an email there.

Have a great week, friends! See you next Wednesday for the next episode of Another Beautiful Life podcast.

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