Wednesday, August 9, 2017


Last evening on America's Got Talent there was one contestant who at the same time repulsed me and softened my heart. She caused me to give thanks for the many blessings which I have but take for granted. A plane crash turned a beautiful teenage girl into a scarred one, and with time, her appearance was frightening. Her name is Kechi Okwuchi , a very sweet young woman from Nigeria. Her plane crashed as it was taking a group of students to boarding school, and she was the only survivor.

To look at the young woman, she barely survived. Indeed, one would ask, "Did she survive, or is she in a living hell?" Not only does she have a body which is burned, but ghastly memories of those who didn't survive. I would suspect that many times she wished that she had died with them. It's not only a disfigured face but her entire body, it seems, from what was exposed.

Society would call her "ugly", but Howie Mandell called her beautiful. Indeed I soon found out, this young lady is truly beautiful. We used to say, "Beauty is skin deep but ugly goes to the bone." I now believe that ugly is only skin deep but beauty goes all the way to the bone! People are shallow. I am too. We most often look at beauty as what we see on the outside.

An acquaintance of mine married a woman quite unattractive by about any one's standards. A neighbor told me why: His first wife was beautiful, and she left him for another man. Now "Will" wanted a wife so ugly that nobody would want her. He married a woman who met that standard but yet she is a beautiful woman as well. "Edna", if one looks past the exterior, is quite a beautiful woman. When looking inside at her heart and demeanor, suddenly her outside becomes more attractive as well.

The definition of beauty changes over the centuries. Plumpness was at one time considered beautiful, as well as fair-skinned. Women struggled to stay porcelain and Rubenesque. Now it's the opposite. In some societies women elongate their necks or deform their lips with primitive hockey-pucks. The men in those cultures see beauty as we see horror. Chinese once adored the small feet of their women who actually crippled themselves on purpose for beauty's sake. The western world found that atrocious.

Fate made Kechi disfigured. It wasn't her choice. I know that "Fate" is really God. I believe what happened was for a divine purpose. Indeed, Kecki softened my heart. As I looked at her injuries, I felt her pain. That is empathy. I put myself in her place and thought, I'd  rather be dead. I can hardly imagine the pain and suffering she went through, and still goes through. I'm sure she is humiliated by unwanted stares, and kids pointing in fear. When I saw the burns on her body, it made me think of hell. Those who deny God will someday be burned as she was, and the pain will be tremendous and without end.

Kechi made me remember why I turned to Jesus. I really struggled even though I believed, I just would not submit. My mindset was, I'm not ready to quit having fun yet. I'm sure that  Kechi had those same thoughts as she realized how badly burned that she would be! Now, for her, being alive is fun. Now for me, being alive is fun. I appreciate every breath that I take and thank God for it. I bet Kechi does as well!

You see, fun is temporal, but contentment is eternal. I enjoy my life, and it seems that Kecki does too. I've often wondered what I would do, if I had one week to live. Sure, I would eat my fill of pizza and brownies, but that is for the moment. I would spend most of my time praising God for his mercy. Guess what? I don't have to wait until that last week - like Kechi I can praise God right now from saving me from the torment that Kecki suffered.

Kecki almost died. Her wounds are as if she is alive but dead. On the other hand, those who will burn forever are indeed the living dead. After they suffer the sting of death, which Kechi likely suffered, their torment will go on forever. If Kechi is a Christian, and I bet that she is, life for her will go on forever, and that beautiful body she gave up in life, will exist again as she is glorified!

I've been blessed. Some look on me as sort of attractive, and others as surely not so. As I look in the mirror I see average, but am content with it. Looking more deeply, I often see ugly because of the sin inside. Sometimes I do think that my ugliness goes all the way to the bone. Indeed, at times my heart is ugly but repentance makes it more acceptable to God. It's God who makes me beautiful inside, and it is God who made Kechi beautiful there too. After considering her pain, this distaste for what I saw became pleasing to my eyes. I no longer saw someone who repulsed me but a young lady who blessed me with her inner beauty.  Truly, beauty is in the eye of the beholder!

Right now, I thank God for me not having to suffer as Kecki suffered. Right now, I thank God that I will never have to suffer as she suffered. Eternity will be a beautiful place, and we'll all have beautiful bodies surrounding those beautiful spirits. Kechi will be a beautiful person on the outside as well as the inside. If we look through that flesh we see, we know that it doesn't matter. It will return to the dust from which it came, but that soul inside will live forever!

This verse comes to mind:
1 Corinthians 12:26 (NKJV) "And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it."
As I gazed at Kechi, I suffered with her. She still appeared to be filled with pain. I thought about her agony and agonized with her. Then, as she displayed her beauty in song, the crowd rejoiced. I rejoiced with them as her face lighted with joy. I have felt this feeling before:
 Matthew 27:45 "Now from the sixth hour until the ninth hour there was darkness over all the land. 26 And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” that is, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” 50 And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit."
As he was dying on the cross in my place, Jesus was in agony. Was it for himself? No it was for mankind. Sure he had great pain, but it was for me that he was in agony. He took all my sin - all of mankind's on his back and suffered the penalty for us all. Imagine his agony at the burden he carried. Christ too was disfigured. With the beatings to the head he suffered, he likely was not human in appearance. His face would have been an ugly sight, but his beauty would have been glorious!

Jesus knew what he would be experiencing. It is called, the agony of Christ:
Luke 22:44 "And being in agony, He prayed more earnestly. Then His sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground."
For whom do you suppose that Jesus was agonizing? Was it for himself? No. That's not Jesus! He was agonizing for us. He knew that millions would go to hell, and that only that He could save them. He felt the pain that those lost would feel. That was such a heavy burden that living waters flowed from him as if he was bleeding. Those waters were for mankind. His sweat made the ground holy, as he sweated for us. Jesus empathized with us. Because he died in my place, I empathize with Him! Indeed, my empathy is how I can show my love, and because I empathize with Jesus, I desire to do his will.

In summary, empathy is important. It's how we show our love. Everyone loved Kechi for what she went through. I love Jesus for what he went through - for me.

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