Monday, October 15, 2012


Pablo Picasso
Blue Nude
"If I am guilty, woe to me!
If I am in the right
I cannot lift up my head,
 for I am filled with disgrace
 and look on my affliction." (Job 10:15)

In Sunday school while we were studying the fall of Jericho (Joshua 6), the subject of "self-worth" came up. The people of Jericho thought they had nothing to fear. They'd built thick walls around their prosperous city, they had a well-trained army and the finest weapons of the age. They did everything right, and so they thought their safety from any enemy was secure. They thought wrong. I asked my 3rd and 4th graders if they'd ever studied really hard for a test, honestly did all they could think of to prepare for it, and still didn't do so great. Most of them had, at one time or another.

"Does Jesus love us less when we get a C?" I asked.
"No," they answered with grins all around.
"Do our parents love us less when we get a C?"
"No," they answered again with grins.
"Do we love ourselves less when we get a C?"

They stared at me, their grins disappearing. They knew what the right answer should be, but it was a lie. We shouldn't love ourselves less when we fail, but we do.

At the risk of conceit, this illness is the one thing in my life I couldn't make work. Sure, I've settled for C's when I wanted A's, but this is an outright F. I've done everything the doctors recommended and a few things they didn't. I've been on every stupid diet known to man, I've tried every medication ever approved for this disease including some that nearly killed me, I've endured surgery, I exercise daily, I relax, I pray, I go to church, I made my walls so admirably strong nothing should be able to get through. Do you hear me?! NOTHING!!!

Yeah, that was me: a fully accredited theologian of the cross sitting in Jericho as comfortable as could be thinking, "Wow, look at those walls." And when those walls started crumbling and no effort on my part or science's part or reason's part could keep them up, my world crumbled right along with them. It's no wonder really. In the English language the word for "worthless" and the word for "sick person" are identical: "invalid." Didn't you notice? I did.
Thinking of myself as a failure is unnecessary self-inflicted pain, that's true, but I refuse to beat myself up for it as yet another failure. I can hate myself to the point of wanting to hurt myself, and Jesus will not love me any less for it. And at the end of all this, THAT is the only wall I've got left standing. Thankfully, it's the only one that matters.

We have to be careful with our definition of "self-worth." If it is worth that truly comes from the self, it crumbles the first time we let ourselves down and every time thereafter until finally, there's nothing leftGrades, full bank accounts, jobs, college acceptance letters, first places, health, looks, even family and friends... All that's nice and there's nothing wrong with having it so long as we understand it's irrelevant to our worth. If you want to know what you are truly, objectively worth, you have to look at yourself through God's eyes, not though anyone else's and not in a mirror. To Him, you're worth dying for. And He's God, so who cares what anyone else thinks you're worth? Including yourself.

Oh, and those crumbling walls? Turns out that's God making room for Himself. So, you'd best move over.

Suggested verse to repeat if it's a difficult day is from Psalm 40:17a
Pain Rehab buddies, remember to breathe!
"I am poor and needy -------> 5 count inhale
but the LORD takes thought for me." -------> 5 count exhale


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