Ever felt like the season you are in just feels ugly? Far from the picturesque, filtered and effortlessly posed images you scroll through endlessly on your Instagram feed.
I recently read in Acts 3 the story of a man who was lame from birth and was carried everyday and placed by a gate called beautiful to beg for provisions.
It struck me as I read that each day he sat in his very difficult circumstance at a place that was named, beautiful. And I began to wonder, is it possible for my ugly circumstance to position me in beautiful places?
You see the word beautiful that we find in Acts 3:2 in it’s original translation actually comes from a word that means: belonging to the right season or hour.
I am not sure what kind of season you are in. I don’t know if you are in a season of desperation as you wait for something you greatly desire. Perhaps you have been in your season of pain and disappointment for what feels like forever. I want you to know that it is very possible for your long-haul journey to produce something that you may not have expected: Beauty.
I can remember watching a friend journey through a difficult marriage break up and I was astounded to witness her walk what could have been a very ugly road with so much grace. She was journeying ugly-beautiful. There was pain and there was hurt. There was confusion and there was suffering but there was also growth, and there was forgiveness. There was depth and there was rebuilding.
As we read on in our Acts 3 story we learn that the lame man called out to Peter and John who were passing by on their way to the temple and he asked them for money.
Peter, along with John, looked straight at him and said, “Look at us.” So he turned to them, expecting to get something from them. But Peter said, “I don’t have silver or gold, but what I do have, I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, get up and walk!” Then, taking him by the right hand he raised him up, and at once his feet and ankles became strong. Acts 3: 4-7 (CSB)
There are two things I notice about this man’s ugly- beautiful journey:
1. He received what he needed, not what he wanted.
Silver and gold was what he wanted but it wasn’t what he needed. Often we will try to look to outside solutions to solve our inward dysfunctions. But the healing and breakthrough that we need is never going to be found in the things of this world.
The world will tell you that more money will fix your problem. A change in career, or a new boss will solve your issue. A bigger house, or a different husband will make you happy. Those things may soothe an outward want – but they are never going to scratch the surface on the deeper need that lies beneath.
Journeying ugly-beautiful means we are vulnerable enough to really let God do the messy work in us. It is in that refining and transforming work that we discover that God is not just interested in giving us what we want, He wants to meet that desperate need. Our willingness to let Him in allows Him to take us on the journey that will lead us to a place of complete healing and wholeness.
2. He needed others to raise him up.
I love that single line in verse 7: Then, taking him by the right hand he raised him up…
What an incredible picture. It paints a picture of miracles taking place when we participate in one another’s breakthrough.
God’s healing was underway but that didn’t mean he didn’t need others to help him get to his feet. The reality is there are going to be seasons in your life where even as God is bringing you to wholeness, we still need others to participate in our healing. Sometimes we need others to raise us up.
It was as Peter took him by the hand and raised him up that he realised the strength that was now in him. Often when we go through seasons of pain and difficulty we don’t feel strong enough to stand, to pray, to believe or to praise. But as we allow others to walk the journey with us – to hold our hand, to pray with and for us we realise that in community we are stronger than we thought.
As you go through your current season, can I ask you the same question I asked myself at the beginning of this devotional? Is it possible that God wants to use your ugly circumstance to position you in beautiful places?