Beauty through Hardship- Look, See, Pray

Frosted rose hips – “Rosa Glauca”

Beautiful, aren’t they? Lacy tapestries of frost crystals after a cold night. If you had seen these rosehips yesterday, on a dull damp mild Thursday, you’d have dismissed then as fading, rotten, discoloured waste hanging on before falling to the earth. Past their best, spurned by the birds, shrivelling up before the relentless progress of time.

Quite frankly, the LAST thing they needed was frostbite! Surely the kiss of death.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if deadly ice never afflicted the roses?

Without the frost, these remnants of summer would have passed away unremarked. No-one would take their picture. It is in and through the freezing that the beauty emerges. I take no credit for the beauty here- it wasn’t my doing or even idea. All I did was go outside and have a look. The harshness of winter leads to a surprising moment of joy! There’s a principle here.

I wouldn’t want to oversimplify and say that frost is always “good.” Some plants will die from the cold. Others have that capacity to surprise us through being changed.

Suffering in life is not generally considered a “good thing” and we’d prefer not to suffer. But we will. We may seek to control our circumstances and experiences: but we can’t. Life happens to us and often in difficult or painful ways. We react, for better or worse.

Are we willing to watch for the beauty, the transformation, that can arise from life’s frosts? Not every suffering is good in itself, if any are! However finding some good, some beauty, even as a blessing for others, is possible in many cases. Living in faith is no guarantee of a perfect life, a pain-free life, or even an attractive life. Jesus didn’t mislead his followers: we must “walk the Way of the Cross” and “love your enemies” and even count suffering as joy.

Matthew 5 v11-12 (The Message) Jesus said: “…count yourselves blessed every time people put you down or throw you out or speak lies about you to discredit me. What it means is that the truth is too close for comfort and they are uncomfortable. You can be glad when that happens—give a cheer, even!—for though they don’t like it, I do! And all heaven applauds. And know that you are in good company. My prophets and witnesses have always fallen into this kind of trouble.”

Such blunt honesty is refreshing in a bracing sort of way. Our world is full of conflict and prideful greed; we are called to live as Light to the world, to show both the cost and the beauty of being reconciled to God through Christ. Being reconciled to Him may well mean we are at odds with society and the powers and principalities behind the structures of exploitation and injustice.

Yet I believe God looks at us and sees the way we are transformed and made beautiful in the frost. Our willingness to follow means God that says to the angels “Beautiful, aren’t they?”

January is a time to look forward: will we see possible beauty, or just dread (or avoid) the pain?

Happy frosty rosehips!

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