Recently, my husband and I watched the new movie “Collateral Beauty” and we enjoyed it very much. It is not a theological movie, it is not based on God’s word or God’s promises and it makes no claims to be, but its premise - beauty in pain and sorrow – stirred in me a search for collateral beauty. A collateral beauty based on a faith filled life that believes that God is sovereign and in His sovereignty He has a plan for every thing that happens in our life; big or small, painful or joyful.
I began to pray that if I was to share this idea of collateral beauty with you, that He would give me wisdom and reinforce that it was truly backed up in His promises and in His Word. There are many other ways to state this idea, beauty in the ashes of life, beauty in the pain of this world and joy in the trials He gives us, but it all leads to one place, collateral beauty. I also didn’t want just random Bible verses that supported my musings, but biblical examples of people, who found collateral beauty in the midst of their story or whose story shows us that collateral beauty can be found anywhere and at any time.
As I was driving to pick up my step-son Logan this morning and take him to his bus, I asked God to reveal to me some of these stories and so my mind began to wander through the pages of the Scripture and even now as I think about it, I am beginning to see that there is collateral beauty in almost every story in the Bible. The story of Abraham, Sarah and Isaac, in Genesis chapters 21 – 22 and as you read those words you see the beauty that comes from the trials and waiting that Abraham and Sarah had to endure. Even though they did not always make right decisions, God had promised them a child and he still fulfilled his promise, He gave them a son, Isaac, their collateral beauty in the midst of life.
Then there is the book of Ruth! A book filled with pain and suffering, but ends with beauty, the beauty of God’s plan in the midst of it all. The beauty of following His will when everything looks dark and with out hope! This story shows the collateral beauty of commitment, compassion and love for others that Ruth displayed in her actions towards Naomi, the collateral beauty of Boaz and his honorable acts to redeem Ruth and Naomi and continue the family line.
The one story that displays collateral beauty the best is Jesus Christ on the cross! God gives his only son, He allows him to die on the cross for us, sinners, to save us! We are the beauty from that pain! Our lives devoted to Christ and living out His plan for us is the most fulfilling example of collateral beauty.
I will be honest, I know my struggles are not as deep and painful as some out there, but to me they are struggles non-the-less and I need to remind myself to look for the collateral beauty in all things. I also do not know what God has in store for me down the road or how the lessons I learn in the small things will prepare me for something bigger. So please don’t feel like I am belittling your pain or making small of the things you struggle with. Pain is real. Our struggles are real and they are different for everyone. But there is one common thread in all of these stories, God and his plan and following Him no matter where He leads us. It may take small things like a sunrise on a day that you didn’t want to get out of bed that speaks of collateral beauty or it maybe something life changing. It may take months or years to see collateral beauty in what you are experiencing, but don’t let the pain blind you from what God is trying to teach you. Allow God to show you the beauty through the lens of pain and struggle. Once you see the beauty in what you have experienced you can share it with those who need it most.
Collateral beauty, look for it and you might find it in the most unexpected places, a sunrise, a rainbow, a flower in bloom, a friend who shows you compassion or a phone call or card just to say I am thinking of you. Collateral beauty is around us everyday, if we will allow God to show it to us.