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Saturday, April 25, 2020
Everything is Beautiful
One of my favorite songs in the musical “A Chorus Line” is called “Everything Is Beautiful at the Ballet.” In this song, one of the dancers explains how going to see the ballet as a child allowed her to escape from hard times and abusive situations at home into a fantasy world of sugar-plum fairies where the heroine always found her Prince Charming. Dancing then became her life’s passion and dream, so that she could share this beauty with others.
I was blessed to first discover the beauty and creative outlet of dancing as a young child, and to continue expressing myself through this unique art form, in which the dancer herself is the artistic instrument. One of the many joys of dancing is that it demands complete focus, especially Theatre Arts partnership dancing with overhead lifts that my husband and I enjoy, for to lose focus could mean serious injury for one or both of us.
And while we’re concentrating on perfecting a particular lift, there is no mental, emotional or physical energy to waste on worrying about coronavirus or anything else that might be troubling us. With God’s empowerment, the end result (although never a reached destination; always a work in progress) is a fluid series of moves that reflects an emotion or idea conveyed by the lyrics, typically a Christian theme in dances that we choreograph.
Yet the “Chorus Line” song also reminds me that the process leading to the beautiful ballet is often fraught with pain. My husband and I have at times worked through bouts of back, knee and shoulder injury; plantar fasciitis; and recovery from a heart condition or pneumonia. Each of these stressors required unique adaptations of our bodies and training to accommodate the movements we could perform without further injuring ourselves, but what we learned in the process often improved our dancing.
Even as a young ballet dancer I remember battling bruised toenails from dancing en pointe, particularly in a vigorous, athletic ballet piece demanding repeated jumping and landing on the tip of one toe. Before performances, the wardrobe mistress would pour wintergreen oil on my purple toenail to numb the pain. But once I was on stage, the adrenaline and sheer exhilaration of dancing made everything beautiful once more, and I was blissfully unaware of the throbbing until the dance was over.
Although I was then not yet saved by trusting in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15:1-4) as the only Way to Heaven (John 14:6), I still somehow understood that suffering can have a higher purpose. This was fully epitomized In Christ’s supreme agony on the cross, required to pay the sin debt of all mankind so that sinful man could be reconciled to Holy God (Romans 5:10; 2 Corinthians 5:18-20; Ephesians 2:16).
He was marred beyond recognition, so that all would recoil from His frightful appearance. Yet had He not been willing to subject Himself to that ordeal, we would never experience the eternal beauty His salvation brings (Isaiah 53).
In far lesser degrees, God allows His children to go through various trials (Romans 8:28) to strengthen their faith in and dependence on Him (Romans 5:1-5); to give us experience and compassion to help others going through similar trials (2 Corinthians 1:4-6); and to mold us into His image (Philippians 3:10). My daily prayer is that God is using the coronavirus pandemic to accomplish these ends in His children, as well as to lead the unsaved to trust Christ as their Lord and Savior.
The media focus on all that is ugly about the coronavirus pandemic, and there is plenty of that – sickness, death, unemployment, isolation, global financial collapse. Health care workers and others on the front lines describe their new normal as a “war zone” or “nightmare” in which they battle constantly to save lives while endangering their own.
Yet there is an unexpected beauty in many of the consequences of the pandemic. Many in isolation now have more time to get alone with God, pray, study His Word, and to engage in quality time with family with whom they are sheltering in place. Many are restoring their homes and dinner tables to living artworks where they can share God’s blessings with their family and thank Him for His abundant love, mercy and grace.
Although some try to profit financially or politically from the widespread misery, others step up to the challenge, helping those in need by donating money and supplies, praying, and sending messages of encouragement and hope. Businesses and churches have shut down, but so have drug cartels and gang wars in hard-hit cities.
Another prayer for these perilous times is that we would all gain a new-found appreciation for the many God-given blessings we so often take for granted, including the privilege of congregating together to hear God’s Word, to worship Him, and to uplift one another (Hebrews 10:25).
The plague and pestilence we now face, as well as global reports of famine, storms, wars, rumors of wars, and false prophets all remind us that we are in the End Times (Matthew 24). No man knows the day or the hour that the Lord shall return to Rapture His children to ultimate and eternal beauty, joy, and peace (1 Corinthians 15:51-54), but we know that it is one day closer today than it was yesterday (Matthew 24:36).
As the apostle Paul wrote under Holy Spirit inspiration, we are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; and perplexed, but not in despair, for Christ has transformed our fate from the curse of sin and death to eternal glory (2 Corinthians 4:8-18). Praise the Lord, He has made everything beautiful in its time! (Ecclesiastes 3:11).
Through faith in Him, we may be sorrowful in this ugly world, but He will give us beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, and the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness. He will plant us as trees of His righteousness, to His glory! (Isaiah 61:3)
© 2020 Laurie Collett