Read His Words Before Ours!
Scores of people murdered. Even more wounded.
Horror. Anger. Outrage. Fear. Isolation.
Small words that do little justice to the ocean of virulent emotions gripping so many in the United States after a violent nightmare unfolded in Orlando in June. Regardless of differing perspectives, world-views, and political lines, a few truths stand alone in the wake of tragedies like the Orlando shooting, like September 11th, and other acts of violence across our nation.
Lives were taken. Cut short.
Hearts left beating are now broken and bleeding. Stuttering along, they will feel out their new, grief-colored cadence, as they attempt to reconcile with a new reality that does not include a loved one.
Regardless of location, color, creed or lifestyle, we are all affected by human tragedy.
As we should be. But does beauty play a role here?
In studying Proverbs 31 and the traits of a godly woman, I keep returning to this question:
What do strength and dignity look like in the face of violence and ugliness?
I know what they don’t look like.
They don’t look like judgment.
They definitely don’t look like apathy.
They don’t look like an advantage in a political chess game.
But what do they look like? Tangibly, what do strength and dignity look like in the face of tragedy when values are also at play? How do we put on Christ’s beauty when we strongly disagree, when our prejudices rise up?
Strength and dignity look like love and respect.
They look like empathy.
They look like compassion for the hurting and broken.
They look like Jesus, Almighty with skin on, because that’s Who we follow.
Easy to say, but in practice, it’s not always so simple, especially when emotions run high and battle lines are drawn. Whether it’s between groups of people or individual relationships around us, we as Christ-followers, are called to love beautifully and genuinely as we are clothed in His dignity and strength.
I am struck by the psalmist’s wording, “…she dresses herself with strength…”, and am drawn to Ephesians 6, where I am reminded that our struggle is not against flesh and blood (other than perhaps our own), but against the spiritual forces of evil. We aren’t required to be strong on our own because He is strong for us. Instructions for clothing ourselves in His strength are clearly outlined:
Put on the full armor of God, that we might stand firm.
Pray at all times in the Spirit.
We don’t have to feel helpless to love others, to put on beauty, or to respect people we don’t agree with, when we remember these words and put His instructions into practice. When we are wearing His armor of truth, righteousness, peace, salvation and His Word, we will act and speak as ambassadors for our Jesus.
His Word will be in us, and His love will be our language.
Now more than ever, we must press in, drinking His words and cultivating our relationships with Him
so we can wear His beauty with bold love!
As we begin to walk in His strength and acknowledge our identity as one of His chosen people, dignity becomes a natural byproduct of that obedience. Often the idea of having dignity is mistaken for being prideful or arrogant of oneself, when in reality, dignity is acknowledging who we are and respecting that identity. When we acknowledge who we are (a chosen people, a royal priesthood, charged with carrying the love and Word of our Father to all) and begin to walk in that identity, we begin to respect ourselves (and those around us) through our words, actions and lives.
As we’ve walked through tragedies and witnessed hate crimes and random shootings… we must remember that these are the opportunities for beauty and grace to be made known in us! Not in our power, but in the One who makes us Beautiful in His Strength!
Lord, help us to put on your full armor every day. Help us to pray continually, and to remember that no matter the name or face man pins to the evil we see, our battle is not with flesh and blood.
Father, heal our land.
Heal our relationships.
Heal our hearts.
Make us live out Beauty in a world of Broken, as we rely on Your Strength!
Embracing God’s fullness in our lives is rooted in scripture and memorizing His word is vital to our continued growth and depth with Jesus. Tap and hold from your mobile device to download this week’s verse and make it your phone’s lockscreen!