“Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart” (I Samuel 16:7).
My mother recently downsized to a smaller apartment. In the process she parted with some lovely European cut glass which she rarely used. She displayed them occasionally, but the rest of the year they stayed packed away. Although lovely to look at they were not very useful.
I am certainly not saying that we shouldn’t enjoy things because of their aesthetic value. After all, God is the creator of beautiful things. But sometimes appearances are not everything.
Pain and illness can affect our outward appearance. One of my daughters saw a picture of me taken 30 years ago and remarked how good my makeup looked. I somewhat laughingly told her that pain and age have taken their tolls. No matter how expensive the health or beauty treatment, it can’t always hide the effects of chronic pain. Sleeplessness causes eye circles, medications cause weight fluctuations and other physical changes, and aging causes wrinkles.
Being useful to God does not require a perfect outward appearance. It requires a mind and heart attitude that is willing to be used by Him in whatever ways we can in our specific conditions. Beautiful, healthy people may look at us and think we are not very remarkable, but God sees the inside as well as the outside. If we are allowing our pain to conform us to the image of Christ – praising Him and giving thanks even when life is incredibly hard, trusting His decisions for our lives, forgiving those who don’t understand our limitations – our spirits are lovely and pleasing to God.
My mother enjoyed the beauty of her cut glass, but at this point she only has room for what is useful. In heaven we will all be perfect in appearance as well as continuing to have great purpose. For now, even while in pain, I pray for the desire to prepare my inner self for the outward beauty yet to come.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, keep me from becoming distracted or discouraged by outward appearances. Rather let me stay focused on developing the beauty of Christ in me, and in serving the purposes for which You created me. Amen.
About the author:
Bronlynn Spindler lives in VA and is blessed to have the support and encouragement of a wonderful husband and three grown daughters. God’s grace and strength have brought her through thyroid cancer and continue to sustain her through ongoing back pain, depression, headaches, multiple sensitivities, eye pain, and fibromyalgia. You may view her blog of devotionals at http://www.aplaceofsprings57.blogspot.com.
If your health issues have altered your physical appearance, how has that affected you? What can you do to focus more on developing the inner radiance of Christ rather than dwelling on negative outward changes?
“Fingerprints of God” by Steven Curtis Chapman is a great song that speaks of what true beauty is. I hope it reminds you that even when you feel like your appearance doesn’t measure up, God never looks at your outward beauty for a sign of worth. You are always beautiful to Him because you are His masterpiece. -Lisa