Man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart. I Samuel 16:7c
Several weeks after my beloved mother went home to be with the Lord, I purposed that I would get something out of what I deemed to be one of the worst things that I could endure: watching my precious mother suffer and die from the cancer that ravaged her body along with my heart. God gifted me with a natural optimism (or in this case maybe a desperate resilience) that looks for the storm cloud’s silver lining, the grist for the mill, and the glass for lemonade à la life. This time was no exception.
It was around my eighth birthday, and I was determined to get three “must-haves” that my mom had previously denied me: bangs, pierced ears, and sparkly eyeshadow. I enlisted the assistance of my older sisters and soon after acquired all three. The stark morphing in my appearance from second to third grade was telling and reflective of my broken, devastated heart. I didn’t need “must-haves” but a “must-Who.”
Once we come to know Christ as our Savior, He begins a far different makeover from my elementary school endeavor – one from the inside out. This involves a process in which, by working all things together for our ultimate good (Rom. 8:28), God conforms us progressively into Christ’s image (Romans 8:29-30; 5:16-18; 1 Cor. 15:42) as we experience Him in our woundedness, neediness, and inadequacies. According to Isaiah 61, this includes healing our broken hearts, comforting us in our mourning, liberating us from captivity, granting beauty for our ashes, investing our shame for a double dividend of honor, and exchanging our heavy spirit for a garment of praise so that we will radiate Christ while blessing others in his name.
Consequently, God won’t use what we haven’t surrendered; we can’t deny, commit, or sacrifice what hasn’t first been owned or healed; and God can’t heal what isn’t acknowledged and presented to Him. He expects us to do our part while trusting Him to do His! And although we will never be the same on the other side of trials and heartache, by God’s grace we can be better than ever before as the reservoir of grace and comfort we receive in our sufferings can flow into the lives of those we encounter.
Melissa Smith is the Women’s Enrich Counselor at America’s Keswick. She has the privilege and honor of ministering to the Colony men’s wives, fiancees and girlfriends, the Barbara’s Place women, and some women from the community who God brings to America’s Keswick for help or care. She and Bill, her husband of 18 years, have four adopted children ages 17 to 24. Her fervent desire is to point women to Christ and His sufficiency, provision, and promises.