At my church a ways back, we were talking about bringing our God-given creativity out of hiding and letting God use the whole of our lives to bring light and hope to our individual worlds, and this weekend we were exploring the interplay between creativity and pain. Two of my favorite subjects, seriously. I’m kinda weird that way. I love talking about writing. I love talking about the hard things in life. And I love talking about God taking something hard and turning it into something beautiful.
We were reminded – or were maybe learning for the first time – that we each have a canvas. That we are each artists. That we are each image-bearers of a Creator God and that we don’t need to be quote-unquote artists in the way we might typically think of them – dancers, songwriters, painters – to be considered creative. That our entire lives are our canvases. I love this.
And I love the idea that our most beautiful creations can come at the intersection of our pain and our willingness to let God transform it.
I’ve long been buoyed up by the verse that says we have a God who comforts us.
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. –II Corinthians 1:3-4-
What a promise. Even if the verse stopped with the hope that God comforts us in all our troubles, we’d be set and we’d have reason to be deeply grateful. Because life is so hard and we all have pain and we all need, from time to time, the comfort of God.
But it doesn’t stop there. The verse goes on to say that he provides us with this comfort so that we can comfort others.
God does what he does so that we can do what we can do. Something only we can do. Something only I can do. Something only you can do.
So if you’re looking at your life and thinking you’ve got nothing to offer, I will beg to differ with you every single time. I would ask you about one of the deep pains in your life. And I would not judge if this pain happened to you or came at your own hand. And I would point out to you that whatever that pain is – divorce or a hard marriage or an abortion from a long time ago or an eating disorder or a prodigal child or a battle with depression or whatever – whatever it is, is your so that. Whatever you have received the comfort of God to get you through (and can I point out that just that you’re breathing still, he has gotten you through?), whatever he has gotten you through is your canvas. It’s your so that. It’s your thing that only you can do. You have received a comfort through your pain that you can turn around and offer to someone else in a way that only you can do.
Your canvas is calling. It’s waiting. No one else can or will fill it up with your ashes-to-beauty story. Pain can be the end of your story. But that would be sad, and a waste, and just such a shame, and it doesn’t have to be that way. Don’t let it win out. What in the world are you waiting for?
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I love this concept! It is what has kept me going many days. What we go through is not just about us.
There is a much bigger picture/tapestry. and I love your new look on the web!
Thank you, Rebecca!
So good! And God builds a beautiful tapestry out of our collection of canvases. Yes, I have several!!!!
WOW! You certainly know how to muster the troops Elizabeth! Once again, God is so sweetly using you to encourage me to take another step forward into God’s plans for my future. THANK YOU for being His instrument in my life today!!
I’ve been reading these beautiful words over and over, Elisabeth! They offer so much hope to myself and to so many of my friends who have experienced pain in their lives. I’m sharing it on my FB page–I know others will be encouraged as I am. Thank you!