The French artist Pierre Auguste Renoir was a leader in the early Impressionist movement of the nineteenth century. For the last two decades of his life, Renoir had to adapt his painting style to accommodate debilitating rheumatoid arthritis. He sometimes strapped a brush to his immobile, deformed fingers in order to continue his work. He also took up sculpting, directing others to act as his hands. He completed some of his most famous works when he was in the advanced stages of his illness.
One of Renoir’s closest friends was the artist Henri Matisse. On one occasion, as Matisse watched his friend struggle to apply each brushstroke, Matisse asked, “Why do you continue to paint when you are in such agony?”
Renoir replied, “The beauty remains; the pain passes.”
Renoir’s words remind us of the hope God offers when we are patient in the face of disappointment and pain. One of the two Greek words translated as “patience” in the New Testament is hypomone, which means “to remain under.” This kind of patience speaks of being faithful to God’s calling even when things seem hopeless, and loving others even when they seem unlovable. It speaks of trusting that our pain will pass but the beauty of God’s work in us— and through us—will remain for eternity.
Father, help me to live with a focus on what will last.