I'm so proud and so happy to introduce my sister Jean to you today. One of the dearest people in my life, she is currently studying Biblical Counseling in Central Baptist Theological Seminary in Plymouth, MN. This following piece is her reflection on her acne. Her struggle with her extremely sensitive skin has been fierce and painful for well over a decade. Because of the way Jean pursues life, she is relentlessly theological, even in the way she observes her pimples. She is a woman of great courage.
|This picture was taken right before my most recent breakout.|
A few days ago, I saw some devastating pictures of Pakistani Christians suffering from a suicide bomb attack (some images are gruesome, here is the link if you want to see them). Hospital beds were crowded with injured patients waiting to be treated. The cement floor was dirty and the walls were covered with black stains. In another picture, there was a man whose shirt was soaked in blood, a little girl in a blood-stained dress, and a woman with a bleeding face.
Suddenly, the one valuable thing I had at that moment was something that had weighed me down recently: my acne-ridden face.
I have a carpeted apartment, a nice bed all to myself, mold-free walls, a stocked up kitchen, no missing limbs, but as to a bleeding face…I do have that. I don’t have one that’s bruised and injured but my skin throbs and bleeds more frequently as of late. My aching face was the one thing I could hold onto to enter into their pain, even if to a much smaller degree. I am suddenly grateful for what I had been despising.
It makes me think about suffering in a new light, another redemptive value about suffering I had never thought of. Perhaps another reason God has for allowing Christians in comfortable nations to suffer—due to the fallenness of this world—is to remind us of our brothers and sisters in other nations who are suffering death and persecution for their faith, not to mention poverty and much harsher living conditions. In other words, God knew I needed His help to consider the pain and suffering of others and that is one reason why he has allowed me to have this very, very light affliction — my acne-prone genes. He knew I would be a much different person, for the worse, without it.
Suffering of any kind also reminds us of yet another bleeding face, that of the “man of sorrows, acquainted with grief,” who had “no form or majesty...and no beauty that we should desire him,” and who “was despised...as one from whom men hide their faces” (Isa. 53). If God did not spare his own Son of suffering, and this for our behalf, then we must not believe the lie that our suffering means God does not love us. As Robertson McQuilkin beautifully pondered, "...what always caught and held me was the vision of God's best loved, pinioned in criminal execution in my place. How could someone who loved me that much let anything hurt me without cause?...[T]he heavy heart lifts on the wings of praise."
So, bad acne as cure for the soul? Who would’ve thought? God would, and of course he would, because he is a God who redeems and refuses to waste anything.
“So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison...” -2 Cor. 4:16-17