I try most days to find some hopeful way to look at this crisis we're in and what our response to it might be. Sometimes it's a reminder of something I already knew and forgot, and sometimes it's something completely new, maybe a story or item in the news, or even a quote that is arresting. But I'm always on the lookout for something that will uplift my spirit and enrich my soul and do the same for yours.

Just yesterday I came across this quote from writer Elizabeth Kubler-Ross: "The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen."

I love that last line especially: Beautiful people do not just happen.

I guess the question we might ask ourselves during this time is: What kind of people are we becoming as we go through all this? Are we becoming more cynical and jaded and critical of everyone and everything? Harder to get along with? Bitter?

Or is there a sensitivity that is emerging in our life, a compassion, a gentleness, a generosity? Are we allowing God to work in us? Is a kind of beauty being formed?

There's an old story about Auguste Renoir, the French Impressionist painter, who was essentially confined to his home for the last ten years of his life because of progressively worsening rheumatoid arthritis. It affected his hands more than anything. They became these rigid, vicelike claws that forced him to change his technique and caused a great deal of pain when he painted.

But he continued to create his art each day. One of his friends was visiting his home and watched him work, fighting torturous pain with his deformed hands as he performed each brushstroke. His friend asked, "Why do you continue to paint when you are in such agony?" And Renoir replied, "The pain passes, but the beauty remains."

My prayer for you today is that God will be forming some beauty in your life, even as we struggle through this, and that the beauty will remain long after.

Grace and Hope to you,

Pastor Duane