Our backyard is beautiful right now. This morning I woke up earlier than I had in weeks and watched the sky be painted with cotton candy colors as the rays of light pierced through the trees making known to the world that a new day was breaking. Blossoms on the barren branches waved in the breeze, the squirrels went about their morning rambles and the cardinals returned once more to the bird feeders waiting for them. A yard that felt so dead this winter has come to life, reminding us that beauty always triumphs, the sun always rises, and what was once barren and empty is made full. Just as the autumn season reminds me of the Lord’s steadfastness despite our feeble senses, the summertime reminds me of His goodness and beauty at work even when the darkness and ugliness feels so strong.
Be still, my soul: the Lord is on your side;
Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain;
Leave to your God to order and provide;
In ev’ry change He faithful will remain.
Be still, my soul: your best, your heav’nly Friend
Through thorny ways leads to a joyful end.
Spring swept in this year with it’s hope filled beauty at a time when thorny ways seemed to abound. Churches were not meeting, families were separated at a time they normally gather, teachers bid farewell to their students, seniors abruptly closed out a season of life, and people were left in a daze at how suddenly lives turned upside down. Once the surprise abated, anxiety and depression began to set in. The novelty of the situation had worn off and soon phone calls decreased, projects were traded in for binge watching, and statistics show the astonishing number of people who were turning to entertainment to numb the pain we all feel when the beautiful ordinary slips through our fingers.
It feels as though each week more sorrow has arrived. On the internet, in the streets, and all around us screams of division and anger, hurt and confusion, brokenness and suffering. It’s so much to carry and process. It sits atop the weariness of the previous months with an almost unbearable heaviness. Regardless of your political views, you cannot deny that just about every one on either side is worn down and heavy laden in one way or another.
I called my grandmother a few weeks ago, when I felt myself giving into the feelings of loneliness, fear, and discouragement. She encouraged me to stop watching the news and go outside. I brushed it off at first, chalking it up to her grandmotherliness, always down on the internet and an avid proponent of the outdoors. Ever since I was a little girl she’s been pushing me outside, suggesting I go for a bike ride instead of watching a movie, or reading outside instead of on my bed. I never understood why. I just assumed it was what grandmothers did. They made delicious treats and sent kids into the backyard.
But finally, at twenty, I think I’m beginning to understand her reasoning. It’s not just her grandmotherly tendency, it’s her grandmotherly wisdom.
Be still, my soul: your God will undertake
To guide the future as He has the past.
Your hope, your confidence let nothing shake;
All now mysterious shall be bright at last.
Be still, my soul: the waves and winds still know
His voice who ruled them while he dwelt below.
When we step outside into the life bursting forth, we cannot ignore the message of hope being shouted at us by the birds returning to their feeders, the squirrels taking up their dance once more, and the blossoms springing from barren branches. We cannot deny the fact that what felt dead, is now vibrant with life. We come face to face with the reality of the beauty of God reminding our senses and souls that hope is alive. Death and darkness are not the end.
Creation is filled to the brim with evidences of the goodness of God, the beauty of restoration, and the hope we have in all things being made new. Sometimes though we (or perhaps it’s only me) can be pulled into our cell phones and computers, sitting for hours in the brokenness and ignoring the hope outside our doors. Something in us convinces our minds that it’s a more profitable use of time to examine the scope of disaster and heartache, rather than rest in the evidences of hope. It’s rather silly when we consider it, don’t you think?
My heart is heavy. I’m not here to give you my thoughts and opinions on the pandemic, on the pain and turmoil inside our nation regarding murder and misunderstandings. There are plenty of voices addressing those, and even more to come, I’m certain. I believe that this is a broken world, that people do wicked things because of their love of sin, and that Jesus came many years ago and made a way for those wicked people to find redemption and restoration in and through Himself.
I have said these things to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.John 16:33 ESV
I cannot deny the fact that when you get on Facebook or CNN or look closely at your city, you will find suffering, wrongdoing, and tribulation. But what I can promise you, is that this is not the end.
Be still, my soul: when dearest friends depart,
And all is darkened in the vale of tears,
Then shall you better know His love, His heart,
Who comes to soothe your sorrow and your fears.
Be still, my soul: your Jesus can repay
From His own fullness all he takes away.
In my backyard I planted pink Gerber daisies early on this summer. My thumb isn’t what one would call a green thumb and so my first blooms quickly shriveled and died due to a lack of water. After some googling, I realized they needed more care than I had been giving them and I started watering them more and pruning off the dead leaves. A few days later when I was taking the trash out, I walked past my plant and there sitting in what had once been a collection of dead flowers, burst forth a vibrant pink daisy. The beauty had won.
Creation is filled with reminders that there is coming a day when the darkness will be lifted. Change and tears will be passed. No more disheartening news will hit your ears. Beauty, unrivaled beauty, will replace all the horror and stain of sin. So do keep fighting the good fight. Do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with your God. But do not keep your eyes fixed only on the darkness of this world. Look outside at the daisies blooming and the sun rising and remember that beauty and goodness will win. They already have.
Be still, my soul: the hour is hast’ning on
When we shall be forever with the Lord,
When disappointment, grief, and fear are gone,
Sorrow forgot, love’s purest joys restored.
Be still, my soul: when change and tears are past,
All safe and blessed we shall meet at last.“Be Still My Soul”
Kathrina von Schlegel
In this world, we will have tribulation. But take heart; our King has overcome the world and one day He’ll make all things new.