So Much More Than Words 

  • ckstubbswrites

Earlier today, I came across a YouTube video where people were chosen to rate others based on their looks on a scale from 1-10. Naturally, I was fascinated by the entire scenario, so I clicked on the video as soon as I saw it. There were so many questions passing through my mind, like, “Why would anyone willingly choose to put themselves in a position to be judged so superficially?” I even thought, “Why would someone else even agree to rate a total stranger in that way?” As I watched the video, I couldn’t help but feel sorry for those people that were given ratings like 3 or 4. I watched how their faces fell when the lesser numbers were called out and I kept thinking to myself, “Why did you ever sign up for this?” In the same way, when the more “attractive” people were given numbers like 8, or 9, and even a 10, I watched as their faces glowed and they revelled in the glory of being called beautiful. The longer I sat watching the video, the more I began to think about the world’s beauty standards. It was so fascinating to me, because many of the people who were given lower ratings, in my eyes, were some of the most beautiful people there. They had beautiful smiles, unique sense of style and just seemed so kind. It was mind-boggling to see when they were given ratings that didn’t reflect what I saw when I looked at them. When I finally turned off the video, I felt a mixture of emotions. Sadness, for those that were given lower ratings. Annoyance, at the people who were ruthless when they pointed out the flaws of the other person, and contemplative, as I thought about my own appearance.

Whether you’re a female or male, I think we all wrestle with our appearances at some point, if we’re honest. After watching the video, I found myself thinking, “What would I be rated if I was brave enough to join that experiment?” “Would I be called a 3 or a 5?”, “Would I leave there feeling dejected?”, “Would I even be seen as attractive in their eyes?” Questions like this bombarded my mind, until I found myself looking in the mirror at my face. I stared and stared, trying to figure out how someone else would rate me, until I was nudged by the Holy Spirit. In the moment, I felt like I was brought back to my senses and I quickly realized that it didn’t matter at all how attractive someone else thought that I was. What matters is that I knew within myself that I am valuable and beautiful. What matters is how God saw me when He looked at me. A few hours after watching that video, I ended up reading the story of David, and how, although all of his brothers looked the part, it was David that God chose to be King. In 1 Samuel 16:7 (NIV), God assured Samuel that while Eliab (David’s brother) looked like a King, he was not. The verse says, “But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

As soon as I read this verse I thought back on the video I watched earlier. As human beings, it is our natural inclination to focus on what’s on the outside. We love all that is beautiful and shiny and cool looking. The thing is, there is nothing wrong with that. There is nothing wrong with being attracted to something or someone that we deem beautiful. I think we go wrong when we believe that this is all that there is and we refuse to look deeper. After reading that verse, I began to talk to God about my heart. I didn’t ask myself anymore, “Do people think that I’m attractive?”. Instead, I began to ask myself and reflect, “What would God say about my heart?” “Is my heart attractive to Him?”, “Is it appealing in His eyes?”

If we’re honest, we’d admit that we all want to be seen as attractive. We all want to be considered beautiful in our own way, and there is nothing wrong with that. However, I challenge you to look deeper and to think deeper. God looks at so much more than our appearance and I think we, as His children, should do the same. Seek to not only have an attractive face, but an attractive heart. Seek to discover the hearts of people, instead of just basing your opinions about them on their physical appearance.

I truly believe that this is the heart of God for all of us.

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  • ckstubbswrites

Gratitude has been a word that I’ve been hearing a lot lately. A few days ago, I had a conversation with my sister about the importance of being grateful, and just a few hours ago, a friend of mine told me that she committed to being more grateful this year. The more that I thought about the notion of gratitude though, the more that I realized that I can do much better in this area. Don’t get me wrong, I thank God everyday. I am very grateful for the things that He has blessed me with. Words can’t describe how grateful I am to God for everything that He has done in my life; however, I am aware that there is still much room for growth in the area of gratitude in my life.

To tell you the truth, I feel like my lack of gratitude contributes to most of the discouragement and discontentment that I grapple with. Instead of being thankful to God for what I have and the progress that I make, I’m often prone to focusing on the bad, and overlooking all that God has done. Do you ever struggle with this? If so, I know the feeling. In this first week of 2021, I feel God leading me back to gratitude. Having a heart that is filled with gratefulness. Praising and thanking God for what He has done instead of complaining to Him about what isn’t going right. I believe that once we adopt this mindset, not only would we experience more peace, but we would walk through life much differently than we do now. We would be much happier and begin to see life through God’s perspective.

1 Thessalonians 5:18 (NIV) tells us, “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” Now, let me be the first to tell you that this is not always easy. In fact, it can be really, really difficult. Your knee-jerk reaction to bad news isn’t always thanksgiving. The first thought that you have when something goes wrong isn’t always to be grateful. If we’re honest with ourselves, we’d admit that oftentimes, it’s difficult for us to muster up even a tiny bit of gratitude when things go wrong in our lives. However, God’s word instructs us to give thanks in all circumstances. It's not saying that we should be thankful for the bad things that do happen, but that we can be thankful that God is walking with us through it, or that we can have peace in the midst of it. With God in our lives, even in the bad moments, we can muster up gratitude because He is with us! Now, God knows that this isn’t always going to be easy for us, so, like the loving Father that He is, He helps us. I’ve had many moments when things didn’t work out the way that I thought they would. In these moments, my initial reaction was to wallow in discouragement, but God would quickly send me a reminder that good is always present even when everything seems to be going wrong. God can help us to develop hearts of gratitude, we just have to ask Him.

I won’t pretend like I’m perfect in this area of gratitude. There are moments when I wake up and praise and thanksgiving comes organically, and there are other days when I have to push and remind myself that I must be thankful in all circumstances. The beautiful thing about life is that each day, I am learning and growing. Some days are better than others, but the days when I find myself struggling, God reassures me that overtime, gratitude will come naturally. If you find yourself struggling in any area of your life right now, I encourage you to choose gratitude. Choose to look for the good in the difficult situation. Choose to be thankful for what you do have when you’re tempted to focus on what you don’t have. Choose to give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you.

Choose gratitude today.

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  • ckstubbswrites

I’ve been thinking and reading a lot about prayer since 2021 rolled in. I reflected on how long I’ve been praying for certain things to happen that hasn’t happened yet. I thought about how many people prayed for their sick loved ones to live, but they ended up passing away anyway. I thought about how many times we pray, and do so in faith, yet, we still don’t get what we pray for. Naturally, I struggled. It was really hard to negotiate that a loving Father would see His children crying out to meet their needs; yet, He does nothing. Earlier today, I found myself reflecting on the same things. I was honest with God about my struggles and truthfully, I asked Him for help, because I felt myself losing hope. I felt myself losing faith in prayer. In the moment of my despair and honesty with God, I was reminded of moments in the past when He came through for me. I was firstly reminded of moments when He showed up on my behalf and answered simple prayers that I didn’t even take seriously. Then, He reminded me of the moments when He literally showed up and blew my mind. As I reflected on these moments, I was reminded that when we find ourselves struggling to believe for our present and even for our future, we must remember moments in the past when God showed up. We must hold on to those moments when He made a way when there seemed to be no way. We must remember the times when He opened a door that we thought never could open. I realized that we mustn't allow our current struggles and disappointments to cause us to lose our faith in the power of God. He is still able. He is still good. He still answers prayer.

After God brought all these moments to my attention, I was reminded of Matthew 7:7-8 (NIV), which says, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.” When I thought about this verse, I automatically returned to the moments when I prayed, yet what I asked for did not come to pass. However, I felt encouraged to keep on praying anyway because I thought about the times in the past when I prayed and God did answer. The thing is, I'm learning that we won’t always understand the ways of God. We won’t always understand why He chooses to do certain things or not to do certain things. Isaiah 55:8-9 tells us that God’s ways are not like our ways, nor His thoughts like our thoughts; but, we can trust His heart and we can trust that His Word is the truth. His Word tells us that everyone who asks receives. This means that God hears every prayer that we pray and He will answer them. It may not always be the answer that we want, but we can trust that He always works for our good (Romans 8:28). So, I will keep on praying, and I encourage you to do the same. I know that many of you are still recovering from the trauma that 2020 brought to many of our lives. You may have prayed and prayed and prayed and felt like God has just abandoned you; but, He hasn’t. He will answer your prayer and it will always be for your good. In this new year, don't give up on prayer.

Keep on praying because God hears.

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© 2021 by Christna K. Writes