Run no. 19 – You need to suffer to be beautiful


Distance: 4.53 miles   Time: 39’ 51” (New PB)

The French proverb says:

« Il faut souffrir pour être belle »

(You must suffer in order to be beautiful.)

Well I was suffering today, although I’m still as ugly as ever. So I’m somewhat doubtful about the veracity of this particular proverb.

But it did start me on a reflective path regarding suffering and beauty.

Why does beauty require suffering?

In the origins story in the Bible it says over and over again, that everything God made, he proclaimed good.

One must assume that the central characters, Adam and Eve, were therefore beautiful.

Indeed the first recorded human words in that story are a love poem to the praise of Eve’s beauty.

Adam awakes and sees this exquisite creature and bursts into poetic adoration – some emotions are so weighty that only poetry is strong enough to carry them.

Ugliness only appears after the Fall; when the human beings rebel, go their own way, doubt God’s goodness and wisdom, and the result is that ugliness creeps in to the world.

It is from this point on that beauty involves suffering, striving against nature and against the effects of time; a battle that we all finally lose.

Happily that is not the end of the story. For the Good News that Jesus Christ came to proclaim and obtain, is that God offers us another possible ending.

An ending in which we are raised from death, given new, everlasting bodies. These will be of a different nature, unencumbered by the ugliness and weakness that we used to know.

In actual fact none of us have ever seen a ‘real’ human being – one undamaged and unlimited by the effects of our fallen state. If we ever did, I imagine we would be lost in wonder.

C.S. Lewis once wrote about a pregnant woman imprisoned in a cell without windows. She gives birth to a son and tries to explain to him the world outside. She draws in the dust with her finger the outline of a tree and tries to explain what it is.

Lewis said the boy’s appreciation of a tree is somewhat like our appreciation of heaven. We have marks scratched in the ground, outlines, images but the reality will so far surpass our imagination, as the reality of a living, majestic tree, leaves blowing in the wind, surpasses the boy’s appreciation of a few scratches in the dirt.

Our new bodies will be amazing and they will surely be beautiful.

To turn around the proverb, Jesus suffered to make us beautiful.


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