The Formation of Masterpieces

By: Cathy Spangler

“We rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us” (Romans 5:3-5; ESV).

The Grand Canyon had been on my “bucket list”, so when my daughter and her husband decided to go and take me along, I was excited.

I will never forget that first look!  We had parked near the visitor’s center and walked up the wide and inclining sidewalk to the scenic outlook.  As I walked along, my heart started pounding with anticipation…I was finally going to get to see it!  When I got my first look I began to cry; it was so unbelievably vast and beyond-words beautiful. All the crowd of people were hushed with wonder. All of us seeing it for the first time gasped for breath.  What an amazing work of God! I asked my daughter what came in her mind when she first saw it. She said “colors.” Her husband said, “I felt so small!”

We spent three days visiting the Grand Canyon and seeing it from many outlook points; we heard about and learned its history and stories. We found out that this astonishing masterpiece of God was created by erosion and the cutting of a river through the stone. Centuries of upheaval, extremes in temperature, volcanic eruption, as well as crumbling and splitting had exposed all its layers of colors and beauty. Without the pressure and the “falling apart,” this wonder would never have become as wonderful as it is.

The Canyon speaks a life truth to us. God allows suffering in our lives to produce endurance and character. We might never grow without the testing. He allows it, keeping control over it to assure that it does its work. And through those hard times our colors and layers are exposed for the world to see: a beauty we do not need to be ashamed of in any way.

On the last day, we watched the sun go down, casting glorious light and elaborate shadows. “Lord,” I thought, “use any means necessary to make us masterpieces just like that Canyon!”

Prayer: Father, your Word says to count it all joy when we go through various trials and difficulties, because it’s that testing that will define and strengthen our faith. Any suffering we experience is producing a steadfastness that in time will make us perfect, complete, and lacking nothing. So, with a big sigh, I thank you for the suffering, knowing that it’s under your control and watchful eye. In the end, I’ll be your masterpiece! In Jesus’ name, bring it on!

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