There are many people in our world who look in the mirror with some form of disappointment or perhaps disgust. They see a funny looking nose, or a receding hairline. They note that they are too tall, or perhaps too short, too thin or maybe too rotund. Just about everyone can find something about their appearance they are discontented with.
The fact is, God made people different. Our facial features are shaped differently, our hair looks and acts differently, we are of different heights and weights and our personalities, our likes, our dislikes, and our tendencies are different as well. All those differences were put there by God. As King David reminds us, God knit each of us together in our mother’s womb, and the result of that is that each of us are fearfully and wonderfully made. (Ps. 139:13-14) And so, if we have difficulty accepting ourselves the way God made us, we find ourselves in conflict with our Creator. The fact is that God created you just as you are, and He wanted you to be that way because He loves you and wants to glorify Himself through you.
I have been rereading Jerry Bridges’ wonderful book Trusting God with my summer intern Chris. This week we read the chapter about trusting God for who you are. It is a chapter that challenges the reader to trust that God knew what he was doing when he knit each of us together in our mother’s womb. God gave us our physical characteristics out of love, for His glory. God gave us our personality, also out of love, for His glory. Accepting that is foundational for our spiritual, and relational health. Bridges quotes wise words from James Hufstetler that come right to the point: “You will never really enjoy other people, you will never have stable emotions, you will never lead a life of godly contentment, you will never conquer jealousy and love others as you should until you thank God for making you the way He did.” Friends, that is so very true.
God made you who you are biologically. Yes, that body you look at in the mirror and perhaps cringe at – God made you like that. He created that nose, that hairline or those funny looking toes. For me, God created me with bad eyesight, unruly hair and crummy digestion. I can fight those things, which I have. I can curse God for those things, which thankfully I have not. Or I can be content with those things, which is what I am learning to be. I also can open my eyes to see how God can be glorified in those things. For example, my crummy digestion has caused me all sorts of pain (literally and figuratively) over the years. As a pastor, there are times when I have to be present, bad stomach or not. But I can tell you two good things my bad digestion has done in me. First, it has made me more dependent and prayerful. God’s grace has been sufficient for me, and there have been many times His power has been made perfect in my weakness. (2 Cor. 12:9) Second, I have seen the faithfulness of God through it – I do not believe my digestion has ever prevented me from fulfilling any pastoral roles in 24 years of ministry. You see, even our disabilities – great or small – can be used for God’s glory and our growth in maturity.
God also made your personality. Are you funny? Are you shy? Are you a deep thinker? God made you that way. And although our personalities are often so very obviously corrupted by sin, the fact is God made you who you are from the inside. And He can be glorified in that as well. Think about those times when we are made aware of the ugliness of the sin inside of us. Perhaps we struggle with pride, or bitterness, or anger, or impatience or jealousy, the many and varied sinful reactions to our circumstances. But God knew we would have those reactions, and out of those reactions He can be glorified. The sinful side of our personality should drive us to His grace and to the cross where that grace was demonstrated to us. Our sin should prompt us to seek God in confession, to ask for His transforming power, and to renew our trust that He will complete the good work He began in us. (Phil. 1:6) All those things are for our good, and bring God glory.
And so, whether we struggle with our outside looks or our inward make-up, we need to be assured that God created us that way. Whether we have abilities or disabilities, we want to learn to receive them from God. In all those things we can learn to give thanks, and we can know that God can and will use those things in our lives for our good and His glory.