Several years ago during a very difficult time in my life a friend shared this story with me:
When French impressionist painter Auguste Renoir was confined to his home during the last decade of his life, Henri Matisse was nearly 28 years younger than him. The two great artists were dear friends and frequent companions. Matisse visited him daily. Renoir, almost paralyzed by arthritis, continued to paint in spite of his infirmities. One day as Matisse watched the elder painter work in his studio, fighting torturous pain with each brush stroke, he blurted out: “Auguste, why do you continue to paint when you are in such agony?”
Renoir said: “The pain passes but the beauty remains.”
Those words touched my heart in a profound way as I realized that my pain, in the hands of my God, was producing a beautiful brokenness. I have never viewed suffering in the same light since then.
“The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart, and saves such as have a contrite spirit.” Psalm 34:18
“The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and a contrite heart – these O God, you will not despise.” Psalm 51:17
If brokenness brings the nearness of God, why do we fight against it so much? This pain is not a master sent to rule over us, but our servant, sent to work in us that wonderful work of conforming us to Christ.
How insignificant our pain will be when we see it as the hand of the Potter, gently sculpting, meticulously crafting a vessel of honor fit for the Master’s use. Those scarred and broken places in my soul, they are covered with His fingerprints.