She had no beauty, distinction or grace to attract us to her, nothing in her appearance for which she might be desired. Familiar with both sorrow and suffering, she was actually reviled and rejected by men. Like someone from whom men avert their eyes in disgust, she was abused, abandoned, disrespected, and devalued.
This is how I feel sometimes. And for a recovering co-dependent, being rejected by those you love is kinda like getting a knife in the eye.
The amazing thing is the original passage was written by a man and about a man, namely Jesus (Isaiah 53:2-3).
Because the eye craves beauty like a starving child, nearly every artist in history has portrayed Jesus as stunningly beautiful with vivid (blue?) eyes and flowing tresses. If God had been a casting director in his search for the perfect Jesus, surely he’d have cast Hugh Jackman, Matthew McConaughey, or George Clooney. It would have simplified his ministry. People would have flocked to him simply because of his outward beauty.
But Jesus was plain. Other than a few manually-labored muscles (that, by the way, he kept hidden beneath his clothes), he was physically ordinary. He might even have had one of those caricatured Jewish noses.
See, what made Jesus so attractive to his followers was the one thing that makes us resplendent, alluring, and dazzling to God—character.
If I’m close to God, striving to please him each day, I don’t have to cough up $195 for spa treatment to be beautiful—I simply am. If I’m striving to imitate the heart of the most ideal man that walked the face of the earth, I will be a reflection of him—stunning. If I’m simply being a good steward of all he has bestowed upon me—my home, my kids, my finances and yes, even my body—then I am ravishing.
In spite of Hebrews 4:15*, I never really thought about the fact that Jesus understood this insecurity that I wrestle with and that he might have been tempted to feel less because of his ordinariness, or that he was tempted to get his validation from his family, his followers, or his foes, anyone other than God.
It also helps me to remember that as a woman, my pristine beauty goes back to creation, where God fashioned or “made” my sister Eve out of the side of her husband (Genesis 2:22). The Hebrew word translated “made” means to build or create a masterpiece or temple. So without any help from Cover Girl, Clinique, or Calvin Klein, I am literally a masterpiece of God.
What’s more, despite teaching Zumba, Pilates, Body Sculpting, and Yoga multiple times each week to keep my temple in top form, my half-century body is decaying (it even sounds gross). Despite the steps I take to limit the toxins that bombard my body via food, cleaning products, and toiletries, my outward beauty is fading.
But as I continue to strive to “look” more and more like Jesus, I actually become more youthful (childlike) and—God promises—increasingly beautiful (2 Cor 3:18).
That’s like getting a six-pack without doing sit-ups.
*”For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin.”
Do you see yourself as marginal or as a masterpiece? As plain or a prize?