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What makes a masterpiece?

While researching this question, I came across two common components in masterpieces of all genres: skill and creativity. Skill makes sense, because the artist must know what he or she is doing. After all, masterpieces rarely happen by accident. Creativity is another no-brainer. A masterpiece is unique and interesting, never boring.

Have you ever thought of your life as a masterpiece? What if you could create your own life, choose all the circumstances in which you’ll find yourself, write your own autobiography before life even happens; produce the music of your life and place every note where you want it; paint the colors of your past, present, and future? Do you think you would create a masterpiece?

A couple of weeks ago I came across a metaphor during a devotional that I think has helped to put life into perspective, or at least a better perspective than I previously held:

Think of life as a piano: the white keys represent the good things that happen, while the black keys, the sharps and flats, represent the bad. To produce a true masterpiece, you need both. Unfortunately, in real life, we don’t get to be the musicians (or else we’d probably use fewer black keys). Sure, some of our poor choices might lead to darkness, but I believe in a God with a will. I don’t always like His will; in fact, right now, His will really stinks. But if His word is true, and I believe it is, then all these black keys right now are contributing to something awesome, something I can’t even imagine.The components of my masterpiece are faith and doubt, joy and pain, patience and frustration, love and loss, just to name a few. I don’t know what my Creator is doing; I can’t fathom His wisdom and creativity, but I know one day I’ll appreciate the black keys of my life.

“Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing” (James 1:2-4).

Perfect and complete? Now that’s a masterpiece. Remember: life isn’t supposed to be easy. It’s hard to accept the pain and suffering that sometimes flood our hearts and minds and bodies. And this life on Earth is all we really know. But scripture makes it plain and simple as to how we should treat these black keys—with joy and gratitude. Again, easier said than done, I know. But if we could all somehow focus on the wonders to come, maybe our pain would weigh less. A simple solution, but a difficult task to complete.

I’m still working on finding joy in my troubles, and I know I have to figure it out myself. But if you’ve struggled with this too, please share your wisdom. You never know who might benefit.