I never wanted to believe there could be beauty in suffering. But perhaps, there is.

Two women taught me that back in March.

Both died from cancer, just weeks apart.

As the illness overtook their bodies, they held onto hope and continued to live–as best they could.

One of those women, Cathy Duncan Peden, I barely knew. I only knew that she had a sweet spirit, that we mingled in the same circles, and that her husband was a good friend to me when I moved to South Carolina.

Still, the news of her ovarian cancer diagnosis and subsequent death, broke my heart.

And it was then that I learned so much about the woman I barely knew. About her love of education. About her dedication to students as a teacher at her high school alma mater. About how she found the strength to make it to the classroom even while going through radiation.

I never took the time to get to know her while she was alive.

And I hated that.

But through her passing, I saw how God can keep you and carry you through the suffering. How He can give you strength you may not have known you had. And how it can touch the lives of others.

The last moments of Christian author and blogger Kara Tippetts‘ life touched people in much the same way. I never knew her at all, but her words met me and showed me her heart.  She wrote about how her faith kept her as she battled cancer on her blog, Mundane Faithfulness.

She likened the beauty in suffering to the story of Joseph in the Bible. She wrote that, “he leaned deeply into Jesus and he came forth beautiful without bitterness.”

Seeing beauty as being removed from a state of hopelessness or bitterness, or being able to love and forgive in spite of your suffering–that was something I’d never really thought about before.

But it makes sense.

When things are tough, wanting to stay in a place where we are angry, resentful, and constantly asking “why me” is natural.  It’s also easy to limit our concept of beauty to what is aesthetically pleasing, what makes us happy, or what makes our problems go away. But by clinging to Jesus, we come to know the beauty of God’s strength and power in our lives, and how He can transform us.

“Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10)



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This is Day 14 of the series, 31 Days of Inspired Living. Join me through the month of October as I write about what I think it looks like to find the inspiration that makes us better. I’ll also offer some encouragement for your journey. In case you missed a day, you can find previous posts in the series here


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