The Pain of Life Brings Beauty

Carol McClain

While hiking, my friend and I discovered these beautiful blue morpho swallowtails. Rarely do they hold still long enough for me to get beautiful pictures, but these three riveted themselves on their dining.

That’s where the beauty ends. Nine times out of ten, what are these lovely butterflies–formerly ugly caterpillars who squish green guts when you step on them–eating? Dung, AKA poop; dead bugs; gross stuff. So don’t enlarge the picture.

This leads me to wonder how much our lives are like butterflies. Before we came to know Christ, we were the ugly, green-yuck-filled caterpillars. Then Christ transformed us. (A pretty common image of salvation, no?) We start our life in Christ knowing it’s going to be filled with roses and mimosa trees. We’ll pollinate the world and live gloriously.

Then comes the dung. Why are we drawn to it?

Day, months, and sometimes years, it seems our lives are filled with detritus. All we feast on is waste. However, out of this comes beauty.

Knowing loss enables us to minister to others. 2 Cor. 1: 3-5 says, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. For just as the sufferings of Christ overflow to us, so also through Christ our comfort overflows.”

Suffering pain lets us relish the carefree times. James 1: 2-4 says, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”

Let the pain bring loveliness. Spread your wings. Know hope is coming. Because of the pain–we’ll know the joy.

 Isaiah 61: 1-3 says this better than I. In any version, we are promised beauty from ashes.

“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, Because the Lord anointed me To bring good news to the humble;
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, To proclaim release to captives and freedom to prisoners;
To proclaim the favorable year of the Lord And the day of vengeance of our God; To comfort all who mourn,
To grant those who mourn in Zion, Giving them a garland instead of ashes, The oil of gladness instead of mourning, The cloak of praise instead of a disheartened spirit. So they will be called oaks of righteousness,
The planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.”

A New York Yankee on Stinking Creek

In my popular book, A New York Yankee on Stinking Creek, an artist finds herself losing all and landing on Stinking Creek. No cell service, no public transportation, no stores–her only hope is an uptight pastor’s wife.

See how she finds beauty in the detritus of life.


  1. Great post, Carol! I agree–we can better appreciate the good if we’ve experienced the not-so-good in our lives.

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