How long, O Lord? Will you forget me for ever?  How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I bear pain in my soul, and have sorrow in my heart all day long? How long shall my enemy be exalted over me? Consider and answer me, O Lord my God! Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep the sleep of death, and my enemy will say, ‘I have prevailed’;  my foes will rejoice because I am shaken. But I trusted in your steadfast love;    my heart shall rejoice in your salvation. I will sing to the Lord,    because he has dealt bountifully with me.–Psalm 13

Several years ago, during a Baptist Women in Ministry of Georgia worship service, my talented artist and minister friend, Hannah Coe, transformed a blank canvas into a beautiful painting while the song, “Beautiful Things” by Gungor played in the background. If you aren’t familiar with the song, you can watch the video below.

In five minutes, the musicians take us on a journey of encouraging the beauty that comes even through life’s most difficult times. In five minutes, Hannah transformed a dull, blank, white space into a beautiful, colorful painting.

When I first heard this song, I was a tired, new mother whose world had been flipped upside down by an eight pound baby boy. Following his birth, a month-long illness clouded my days and kept me from fully enjoying my new baby. His new life felt like the only beautiful thing in my world, but I didn’t know how to care for him. When my body began to heal, my emotions were still in a raw place. As most new mothers feel, I aimlessly walked the road of learning to care for myself and this new addition to our family. Through tears and anger, I leaned on the words from Psalm 13, because I too felt forgotten by God. “How long, O Lord?” became the only prayer I could utter.

Life is unpredictable. We spend time in waiting periods or holding patterns wondering when things will settle down. In those times, it seems like God is far away and not answering our prayers. Our vision of the future seems blurry. We long for God to “give light” to our eyes. We feel clouded by the dust of life and need beautiful things to arise out of it.

For me, Gungor’s “Beautiful Things” became my most frequently played soundtrack and my hope that good things could come out of our dark places of life. Hannah’s painting became the image I used to remind myself during those dark days that beauty could be created in the most unusual ways. As much as I miss those days when Parker was a baby, I do not wish to relive the time in the dark place. However, I see now the beautiful things that grew from during those days. I learned not to take my health for granted. I learned that I love supporting new mothers, overwhelmed in caring for their new babies, feeling that their journey hasn’t unfolded as they were expecting it to.

I often still lean on these words by the psalmist. Even in the midst of honest questioning of the situation, the psalmist found a way to trust in the steadfast love of God.

For my friends struggling, waiting, and praying, “How Long, O Lord?” in dark places today, I pray that “out of chaos” life can be found in God’s love for you. I pray that beautiful things will spring up around you as reminders of hope. I pray your heart will once again sing.

LeAnn Gunter Johns is a 2004 graduate of McAfee School of Theology. She has served churches in Georgia and California and now lives in Macon, Georgia with her husband, Barry and their two boys, Parker and Patrick. In her free time she enjoys cheering on the Stanford Cardinal and Mercer Bears, running, and drinking coffee!