Rev. Michael Keith

I recently had the opportunity to hang out with a blues musician the day before he performed a concert. The blues artist I was able to spend some time with is a master of words and is very poetic in his speech. During our conversation he said something that really resonated with me. He talked about “this beautiful, heartbreaking world.”

There are so many wonderful things that we receive as gifts from God: our very life itself, our family, and friends; food and drink and the enjoyment it brings; the beauty of Creation; the amazing technological gadgets and gizmos around us. This world is full of beauty and wonder and at times can be awe-inspiring.

Yet, there is the other side of things: the pain and suffering we see in this world; the harsh words and mean spirited actions we often experience and perpetrate; broken relationships, broken bodies and broken lives; even death. The world is full of sorrow and sadness and at times lead us to despair.

There are those who only want to focus on the positive. They shut their eyes to anything that might be ugly or sad or broken. They will encourage you to only focus on the good things of life, to make sure all your thoughts are positive thoughts, or to hide yourself away from the darker realities. But that’s not real. You know it and I know it.

As Christians we can fully embrace both the beautiful and the heartbreaking. As Christians we can be real. We can give thanks and praise to God for the beautiful and receive it as gift. We can turn to God in our heartbreak and seek His love and forgiveness. We understand that God is not only with us in the beautiful, He is also with us in the brokenness. And that changes everything. No, it doesn’t answer all the questions we may have, but it assures us even in the midst of them.

As we live our lives in this beautiful, heartbreaking world it has been revealed to us the beautiful heart of God the Father as He sent His Son to be broken for us on the cross. As Jesus took upon Himself all the brokenness of this world He made you beautiful before the Father. He sent the Holy Spirit so that you would be called and gathered into the Church and receive this all as gift. At the font, in the Word, at the Altar, the gifts are given to you so that you might journey through this beautiful, heartbreaking world in faith and trust—knowing of God’s love and mercy for you in Jesus.

Yes, we do live in a beautiful, heartbreaking world. It’s great. It’s also really hard. It’s up and it’s down. Sometimes we’re not sure what it is or which way we are going. However, we know through it all our Lord is with us. He will strengthen us and guide us through His Word and Sacraments in the church so that we can recognize Him as the true source of all beauty and be assured that we are not alone in the heartbreak. We can be real and face life as it is because we know that He is Emmanuel—God with us—in this beautiful, heartbreaking world.

Rev. Michael Keith serves as pastor at St. Matthew Lutheran Church and SML Christian Academy in Stony Plain, Alberta, Canada. He can be reached at

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