Unfading Beauty

Burn victim Sabira Sultana
Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain…
Proverbs 31:30

I just finished reading a heartbreaking story on the Fox News website. It was the kind of story that shook me and at the same time, reminded me of how very much I have for which I should be thankful. The article, entitled “Pakistan Burn Victims Turn to Art of Beauty,” tells the tragic story of several Pakistani women who were severely disfigured when their enraged husbands or lovers either set them on fire or threw acid in their faces. Apparently in their society, it is not uncommon for men to resort to such devilish actions as a means of exacting revenge on women. The article included pictures labeled with a warning for their graphic content, but I couldn’t seem to muster the courage even to glance at the horror with which these women are forced to live every day of their lives. (The photo above is apparently a mild example.)

As my heart broke over these incredible injustices, I also could not escape the convicting truth which these stories of indescribable suffering impressed upon me. In the words of Saira, a 21 year-old woman, “Every person wishes that he or she is beautiful, but in my view, your face is not everything. Real beauty lies inside a person, not outside.” She also shared a story about how before her accident, she became upset to see that the arrival of a pimple had temporarily marred the beauty of her face. Little did she know that just days later, her husband would viciously rob her of her physical beauty forever. Saira has bravely fought to move on with her life, training to become a beautician so she can support herself. She described how she tries not to dwell on the pain of her disfigurement saying, “I don’t want to weaken myself with these thoughts.”

Although we often claim that it’s what’s inside a person that counts, I don’t suppose that any of us have had to test the truth of this statement as women like Saira have. Trying to imagine myself in her situation, I can’t help but wonder, if my outer appearance was destroyed, what beauty would I have left? I know that far too often, I have been guilty of focusing undue attention or worry on my outer appearance to the neglect of the inner qualities that could make me truly beautiful. Nice bodies, clothes, hair, make-up—is that all that we as women are? This is the one-size-fits-all mold that our culture tries to force us into, but God created us to be so much more! “Your adornment must not be merely external—braiding the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, or putting on dresses; but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God.” I Peter 3:3-4

I desperately want to develop this kind of beauty which is precious in the sight of God. What an incredible thought! Being beautiful in God’s eyes—what else could we ever desire? Let’s pray and work earnestly to develop this internal beauty that will never fade and can never be taken away.

Also, let’s not forget to pray fervently for the salvation and complete inner healing of Sarai and other victimized women like her around the globe. I am so thankful that our God “does not forget the cry of the afflicted.” Psalm 9:12