January 10, 2013

Oh those uglies…

In my years of quilting, I’ve learned that the most jaw-dropping pieces generally have some ugly fabric in them. Quilters know that the dull, grey, yucky pieces have a way of setting off the bright, colorful “I must have this” fabrics. Without the uglies, the quilt might be “pretty” or “matchy-matchy” but certainly not beautiful or even interesting. 

This ties to the theme of the week, being thankful. It is a common understanding for Christians that any suffering can be used by God to improve our characters and change our lives. This cannot be taken for granted though. If I face an ugly situation with sorrow, brooding, even bitterness and view life like a quilt made only of uglies, this will damage my character. However, if I can see affliction as a loving Father’s discipline that is meant for my highest good, then by His grace I can grow to be more like Jesus, the ultimate jaw-dropper. 

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. (1 Thessalonians 5:18)

The key to this, and the challenge of it, is when I am in the midst of severe affliction to be thankful for the benefits of it. Affliction can do several good things, including making me more aware of God’s compassion. “As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him” (Psalm 103:13). 

Affliction can also make me more aware of the nature of Christ who was “tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin” (Hebrews 4:15).
Besides that, suffering here has an effect on my view of the life to come, where “there will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away” (Revelation 21:4). Suffering is for this life only, but the time will come when this too shall pass. That thought makes my heart sing with joy.

Just as a composer uses discords in music to make music sweeter and a quilter uses the uglies to make quilts stunning rather than ordinary, so also does God use affliction to make my life richer and my temperament sweeter. May I not dwell on those uglies but see them as part of a greater thing, a life well lived for the Lord. 

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