She was one of the first teens I noticed. Her smile spread slowly, shyly across her face and she held my gaze like an innocent and unashamed child. While most of the teens are quick to return my smiles, this girl is different. She puts her whole self into that smile.

It wasn’t until later that I noticed her hand. She’s missing several fingers and the skin is shriveled from a severe burn. When I took a picture with her, she hid it under her other arm.

Today I smiled at her from across the room and she couldn’t stop smiling. I don’t know how many times she has felt truly beautiful, but I know that when God looks at her, his heart smiles. I sat next to her and she started rubbing my hands and saying “hladay” over and over, which means beautiful. I took her burnt hand in mine and told her “hladay.”

I remembered again how God does this for us. He takes our ugliness and remakes it. I know this, but this girl opened my eyes again to the depths of God’s mercy. The fact that God is the one who wants to go to the weak and the burdened, the overlooked and rejected. He is the one who is our Rescuer Redeemer, who finds us in the darkest corners and gently pulls us into the light.

The girl with the burnt hand looked up at me and slowly nodded. Can I do the same? Can I look up at God and thank him for the charred things in my life, trusting, hoping, knowing that he is powerful enough to use shriveled stubs to make something beautiful?

“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.” Matthew 5:5

 

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