6-Week Series: Against All Odds


Summary: This message explores the God given desire to be beautiful. Inspired by "The Seven Longings of the Human Heart" by Mike Bickle.

(“Beautiful” Music Video by Christina Aguilera)

In her song, appropriately titled “Beautiful”, Christina Aguilera sings all the right words:

Now and then, I get insecure

From all the pain, I’m so ashamed

But I am beautiful no matter what they say

Words can’t bring me down

I am beautiful in every single way

Yes, words can’t bring me down

In fact, the second verse does a great job describing a struggle so many people face:

To all your friends, you’re delirious

So consumed in all your doom

Trying hard to fill the emptiness

The piece is gone left the puzzle undone

That’s the way it is

Yet then again, she attempts to convince us, and maybe even herself, of her point:

You are beautiful no matter what they say

Words can’t bring you down

You are beautiful in every single way

Yes, words can’t bring you down

Don’t you bring me down today.

But I gotta say, and I grew up with three sisters. I have a wife and daughter. We have three different hair conditioners in our shower. I get that women like to change their hair color, and try different looks from time to time. And maybe that doesn’t mean they are obsessed with outer beauty, or that they find their identity in their external appearance.

But when I look at the drastic transformations of Christina Aguilera through the years. I’m not sure that she has convinced herself of her own words. I’m not sure that she truly is able to block out the words of those around her, and simply buy that she is beautiful.

In fact, she looks more like someone stuck in verse two – trying hard to fill the emptiness, with a puzzle piece missing and leaving things undone. She strikes me as someone experiencing the results of attempting to fulfill an internal longing through a source other than God.

There are just 35 more shopping days until Christmas. Black Friday is this week. Have you figured out what you are wanting yet? What you truly desire in your life?

A great deal of shopping time and energy will be expended this year, like every year, on the pursuit of beauty. The longing to be beautiful. Each year there are more than $8 billion of cosmetics sold in the United States. Compare that to the annual expenditure in our country for basic child education at $6 billion.

We spend $2 billion more dollars every year trying to look beautiful on the outside than we do trying to educate the inner minds of our children. And we spend even more trying to smell beautiful. The US and Europe combine each year for $12 billion in perfume sales. Do you even realize how many zeros that is? $12 billion!

Some of us get even more drastic in the pursuit of this longing of our heart. Each year there are 3.5 million cosmetic surgery procedures completed. And less we wonder who this longing may tug at more. 700,000 of those surgeries are done on men. The other 2.8 million on women.

But men have this same longing. It might be labeled differently. In my life it has taken on many labels. The longing to be “cool”, “hip”, “rad”, “sick”, “bad”, “righteous.” My gosh, in 38 years this longing for men has been called so many things, I can’t even figure out which one it is now.

And we even pursue beauty in more “natural” ways. For example: dieting. I love to see those diet commercials on TV while sitting in my Lay-Z-Boy downing a big ol’ bowl of ice cream. The diet industry now has a gross annual income greater than $50 billion. We will spare no expense in our search to fulfill this longing to be beautiful.

But often once we probe a bit deeper. A bit beyond the surface beauty. At the end of the day, we look in the mirror are disappointed with what we find in others, and ourselves.

There was a woman who went on a short term mission trip to Kenya. Before she left, she stopped at a remote village where she attended a medical clinic. As the native women outside the clinic began to sing together, she found herself deeply moved by their beautiful singing.

She was so moved she began to cry. Since she wanted to capture the moment in her memories, she turned to her bi-lingual friend and queried, "Could you please translate the words to that absolutely beautiful song?"

Her friend stared at her and respectfully replied, "If you boil the water, you won’t get dysentery."

Beauty definitely has the ability to be only skin deep. Yet there is something in the human spirit that detests feeling ugly. So we powder, primp, comb and cover whatever we can to look our best. And when it is all said and done. Maybe not tomorrow. Maybe not next week. But eventually we all look in the mirror and find that we too are “Trying hard to fill the emptiness. The piece is gone left the puzzle undone.”

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