“I don’t think of all the misery but the beauty that still remains.”- Anne Frank
Rudy, who died two years ago, studied theater at Valparaiso University with hopes of becoming an actor. Several years after graduation, however, Rudy was diagnosed with bi-polar disorder and diabetes. Heavily medicated, he was unable to hold a steady job. His weight topped 300 pounds. Rudy’s social life was limited and predictable. As his illnesses progressed, the physical parameters of his world closed in to a half-mile radius of his apartment. Yet during this time, Jesus drew closer to Rudy as well. Throughout his adult life, Rudy faithfully attended Sunday worship and Thursday morning devotional breakfasts at his home church- Our Redeemer in Knox, IN. In the eyes of Jesus, his Our Redeemer family, and friends, Rudy was beautiful, Rudy was treasured, Rudy was His.
Describe yourself in the aftermath of your ministry downsizing or vocation loss. Did the word beautiful even cross your mind? The very suggestion seems ludicrous! To paraphrase Arnold from Diff’rent Strokes: What’chu talkin’ ’bout, Dave?” Steamrolled by adversity, we feel weak, ugly, and unloved. We seek tangible evidence to validate our worth in the eyes of others as well as our own. Brick by emotional brick, we erect a wall around our hearts, locking ourselves into a self-imposed prison of pain. Or we can, through the Holy Spirit’s power, affirm God’s sovereignty and faithfulness as we revision and revitalize our calling. St. John of the Cross once offered these encouraging words:
“In general, the soul makes greater progress when it least thinks so, . . . most frequently when it imagines it is losing.”
John Ortberg notes that when Jesus healed the man with edema (Luke 14:1-6), the Pharisees were most perturbed because they considered anything malformed or defective unable to reflect the holiness of God. Jesus’ crankiness toward the Pharisees and compassion for the man with edema originated from the same source: Jesus’ outrageous love for every individual and HIs pain when anyone is undervalued. You, too, are beautiful, you are treasured, your are His.