“The wife of a rural pastor would seem to have little reason for smiling. She and her husband lost their oldest son when he was nine. They are poor and have no visible hope of ever moving out of poverty. The needs of their church and community demand their time, their energy, their resources.” — Mahatma Gandhi

Luke 6:20-23
Psalm 84:5
James 1:9-12

Yet when she opened the door to her home, ushering in visitors, she laughed warmly, smiled authentically. She felt glad to receive guests. She quickly prepared a meal and set it before them, and asked nothing in return. When told “thank you,” she smiled again, revealing a broken front tooth, another mark of a hard life.

Her guests pitied her for this. They pitied her poverty, her hard life, her lack of sophistication.

But she smiled still. And soon these guests realized how much wealth she truly possessed. Peace belonged to her. Strength to serve belonged to her. Joy belonged to her. And all she had she set before her guests.

Her guests, two young upper middle-class American young men, had seen little and lived less. They had known Jesus only in sermons and pop-religion books. Now they saw him in the broken tooth of this woman they had pitied. Yet she’d met him in pain and the hardness of life that breaks one’s teeth and thus creates space for him to smile through.

This broken tooth represented the price she’d gladly paid for living. She’d been chipped in the process of life, and the accoutrements of Madison Avenue or Rodeo Drive wouldn’t mask these manifestations. She had a little more room for Jesus, and as she opened the door to her home, he appeared with her. When she served the food, he sat down to dine with the guests. When she smiled, he embraced the recipients.

The boys had only to see her, to look on her, to see Jesus. He changed their skewed view of beauty to teach them that he resided there, and that they were the ones to be pitied. For they, with their unchipped teeth and unworn bodies, had lived little and loved less. But he loved them through this broken tooth, this willing life of a pastor’s wife. They, in turn, received his love as they witnessed its stunning transformative power. What they’d thought on the margins of beauty had become to appear gorgeous in their eyes.

They saw her beauty because they saw him in her, with her.

He shone through her because she held room inside of herself for him. Her broken tooth, her broken life, her hard days and many trials she’d welcomed. She had allowed them to create a place for Jesus. She had allowed him to shine through as she lived a life poured out.

Even in her pain and sadness and struggles, she had much to smile about. She, above all women, was blessed.

Do we look for Jesus in the hard places?
Do we recognize that he works through the hard and broken parts of our lives?
How does seeing Jesus in those places and in other people change our perspective?
Try looking for him in the strangers you pass today. Try looking for him in your friends, family, colleagues and even in your enemies.


© 2007