Beauty in the Rough Places

Recently, I participated in a very difficult bicycle race. There was rough gravel, steep and numerous climbs, single track riding between trees, pastures to traverse, and heat. Before the race, the organizer warned us, that one section of the course would be deliberately and exceptionally brutal. He then followed this up by saying something like this, “Some of you will hate me for this, but it is a very beautiful place, watch for and enjoy the beauty.”

Besides wondering, “What have I gotten myself into again.” Followed by the thought of, “I’m getting too old for this.” I tried to take his words to heart. In fact, I always try to make these races a time of worship. After all, he was right, even though these races are often brutal, there is a lot of beauty along the way. Sound familiar? Sounds like life to me.

Life at times is hard. At times, there are steep and dusty hills, big and sharp gravel, strong headwinds, and it can become very hot along the way. This should not surprise us because we now live on a sin-filled, fallen planet, full of sin-filled and fallen people. Due to our willful disobedience we have caused everything which was good and perfect to go out-of-whack.

But, because of who God is, because of His love, grace, and mercy there is still much beauty to be found in this world. Such as: Much of creation, though corrupted from its original design, still reflects the glory, beauty, and magnificence of God. And, of course, the highest beauty is found in the sinless life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. A beauty which is reflected also in His people who trust in and love Jesus and are striving to live for Him.

As we travel through life, we must learn, even in the midst of hardship and pain, to intentionally look for the beauty of God around us, in others, and in ourselves. At times, we will not feel like doing so and will want to focus on our pain and hardships. But, with His help, we must force ourselves to look for the good. We must remind ourselves of the perfection which is coming when we will finally cross the finish line and are perfectly Home in the Father’s House.

Often times, when I find myself in the heat of the race and battle, I will remember and quote this verse from the New Living Translation of Exodus 14:14, “The Lord himself will fight for you. Just stay calm.” Try it! I also encourage you to remember these words of encouragement and assurance from Jesus, which I now find myself using often from John 16:33, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” Try it!

Press on! Search for the beauty! Allow Jesus to fight for you! Pray for joy and strength even in the rough places. Take heart, Jesus has already won and the finish line, Home, is just on the horizon!