Hey friend, it’s been a minute. Since we last met here, the world has been in utter turmoil. You don’t need me to tell you about the pandemic and its economic fallout, the loss of life, the agony of pervasive racism, the climate change sparking fear like all those wildfires, or the actual wars and rumors thereof. You don’t need me to remind you of the friends who left your church, or left church altogether, or left the faith, and all the reasons why leaving felt preferable to staying for them.
You don’t need me to tell you: the world is an ugly place.
I’m popping in here after all this time, after all we’ve been through, to acknowledge the ugliness and still proclaim the opposite. I want to say—no, I want to declare, to yell–that the world God has given us is profoundly beautiful. Still beautiful, still worth something. Yes, it is fallen and ugly and sad, but the world and its people remain worthy of redemption in God’s eyes, so shouldn’t we also look for the goodness in it?
That the world is still beautiful is actually amazing, with my news feed looking the way it does. It is beautiful in a way that is only possible because we still have a God of unbridled, boundless grace. A God who makes beauty from ashes. Whose light can never be devoured by darkness.
Despite all the ugliness and horror and pain, the beauty of nature is manifest in trillions of ways, large and small and cosmic and micro-cosmic (is that a thing?). The beauty of human compassion and kindness and love still shines so bright against the darkness it can make your eyes water. The beauty of God’s love for us in our fallen state, in our ugly world, in our sorrow over the way things are, is infinite.
This isn’t denial, it’s defiance. So often during the last couple of years I’ve felt overwhelming sadness, near-complete grief over the things we’ve lost and are losing. That’s what happens when we focus just on the ugly. But God tells us to fix our thoughts on something else—whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy (Philippians 4:8). That is, above all else, God Himself. And it is also what He has created, from the blooming flowers in your backyard to that gorgeous sunset at the beach to the guy who held the door for you because a double stroller is just too much.
That’s all I wanted to say today. It’s a small thing but it’s also a big thing. For as long as I can remember, I’ve naturally sought out the beautiful no matter where I am. I even had a series on my old blog called Seeking Beauty. God’s been showing me lately that He made me this way partly so I can encourage others, so my hope and prayer is that it encourages you today!