Yes, brunch is great. Sleeping in – that’s good too. Going to church – always a highlight.
But if I’m being 100% honest: the real reason why I love Sundays so much:
I love watching the NFL.
And one of my favorite parts of the game, is the touchdown dance.
And you’ll notice, if you watch enough pigskin, that many athletes will point to God after they run into the end zone.
Which is awesome.
And this is not just something football players do.
Watch any award show — The Grammy’s, The Oscars etc — and albeit more rare than in the past, people will still thank God for their success. And at least, share the glory.
And I don’t know about you, but I’ve always dreamed of my acceptance speech for an Oscar. Maybe you have too. Or maybe you’ve perfected a touchdown dance, or fantasized about running with the American Flag around the track after winning the Olympics, pointing up to the sky while the crowd chants your name.
But isn’t that the dream? Isn’t that the ultimate? God, glorify me, so I can glorify You.
But, time for some truth: at least for 99% of us — that’s not how things end up.
And #Realtalk: there are seasons where it’s the opposite.
I get the comment a lot: “I can’t believe you’re sharing your story.”
So why share it?
But what about the times when you can’t see Him. What about when you’re hurting. What about when you’ve prayed and prayed for months, years, maybe – for healing, and are still sick. What about when a loved one gets diagnosed with cancer, or you lose your job, get dumped by your boyfriend, can’t make your rent, get rejected from your dream school or dream job? What then?
Where’s God then?
And I wanted to share my story, because I have been there.
I have been at that point of desperation, feeling like there is no hope. That I’ve been passed over.
At the height of my anorexia, looking in the mirror having lost all my hair, emaciated at 78 pounds, having lost all my friends, passions, energy, faith, personality – there was no hope. God, I know I’ve been running and pushing you away, and even though right now I may not want to be saved, God, if You really loved me you would save me from this hell anyway. If I was really precious in Your sight, You would heal my mind from this tormented state.
There’s a story in the Bible about this man named Lazarus. It’s from John 11, if you want to read it.
But Lazarus was Jesus’ best friend. In fact, in that passage, it says that Jesus loved him like family.
And one day Lazarus got really sick and was on his death bed. They sent a messanger to Jesus saying, ‘yo – your BFF is dying, come save him.” You’d think, that as his BFF, Jesus would have dropped everything and rushed to save him.
But no. He didn’t. He didn’t go visit Lazarus for two days. And in the meantime, Lazarus dies. He dies, Jesus let his best friend die.
And by the time He journeyed to where Lazarus was, he had been dead for four days. Four days! But, stench aside, this four days was important. You see, back during biblical times, the cultural/societal belief was that after a person dies, their spirit hovers over the body for three days, and then finally “moves on” on the fourth day. So the fact that Jesus didn’t show up until the fourth day — Lazarus was not only physically dead, but his spirit wasn’t even lingering around. (Sound like anyone else’s situation?) He was completely gone.
And when Jesus arrived, Lazarus’ sister, Mary, was clearly upset. Saying things like, “If You would have come sooner, he wouldn’t have died.” Basically, she was saying what we all do from time to time: God, where the hell are you!?
I think we all know the ending of the story: Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead. Yes, brings him back to life.
But that’s not the point of this post. That’s a whole ‘nother can of worms.
The fact is this: Jesus knew that He was going to arrive late and that Lazarus was going to die. And it’s not like He’s some “behind-the-curtain,” unfeeling, mastermind/puppeteer that gets delight in causing pain. No. That’s not it at all. In fact, when Jesus goes to the tomb and sees Lazarus’ dead body, the bible offers two words that are very telling: “Jesus wept.” (v. 36). He wasn’t unfeeling. Jesus felt the tragedy that Lazarus was enduring, and Mary experiencing.
The fact is this: there was something bigger at play here. Bigger than their friendship. Bigger than Lazarus dying and being brought back to life. Bigger than Mary’s feeling of abandonment that Jesus didn’t come sooner.
Because here’s the big picture: “It happened for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it.” (v.4)
Game. Set. Match.
Yes, all-star athletes or platinum-album celebrities giving glory to God in success is one thing, but it is in weakness – in broken, hopeless situations – that God’s glory really shines, isn’t it?
It’s when all hope is gone, that our faith is really tested, and where we really have to have faith that God didn’t abandon us. That we’re not forgotten. That we’re loved.
Because, when you’re in despair, that’s how you feel. If you’re being really completely honest, — if I’m being really completely honest — you feel that God’s not there. That you’re not loved.
But that’s not how God communicates His love for us. He communicated His love for us on the cross.
So when God isn’t answering our prayer, or has seemed like He “checked out,” it’s not because He doesn’t love us.
It is because God is going to use that weakness, that despair, that heartache and pain – and will be glorified through it, so that others may come to believe. Because when we are weak is when He is the strongest.
That’s why I’m sharing my story. That’s why I’m opening up my past, revealing my wounds and brokenness. Why I’m plastering my heart all over these posts on here and on Instagram (@Beauty.Beyond.Bones) : it is because I have felt hopeless and abandoned and at the break point. But, it wasn’t the end of the story. Jesus delivered me. And my life – every meal I eat, every time I am gentle with my body, every time I look in the mirror and am at peace with the young woman staring back at me, every time I say yes to an outing with a friend, hell — the fact that my hair grew back! — all those things point to His glory.
So I don’t need to win an Oscar, or take the World Cup to be able to show God’s glory. If that’s your story, that’s awesome. Rock on, man.
He is glorified through my brokenness. That’s my touchdown dance.