Beauty pageant tweaked!

Recently a friend’s daughter, Sandhya Sattanathan, 17, was crowned Teen International World 2023 in the US by Ms International World.  She is the first Indian to win the crown.  One of the inspiring aspects of Sandhya’s narrative is her ability to rise above social norms and beauty standards. Unfairly targeted for her dusky skin and tiny frame, Sandhya transformed these challenges into sources of strength, proving that true beauty springs from character and determination. 

Of late I have been meditating on the Gospel of Luke and a thought flashed across my mind: what if the Lord were to crown the Beauty Pageant entrants with different titles…!  Luke writes about three women who remain unnamed and who stand as deserving candidates for God’s Beauty Pageant contest to win the titles – “Miss World Giving, Miss World Long-Suffering and Miss World Not Giving up.” Like Sandhya, not only these three received hope in the midst of hopelessness but they stand tall as hope-givers to others. 

Come along with me to ponder over the lives of these Beauty Pageant participants from the Scriptures. 

Miss World Giving   

Luke 21:1-4: Jesus looked up and saw rich people putting their gifts into the treasury; he also saw a poor widow put in two small copper coins. He said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them; for all of them have contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in all she had to live on.” 

Jesus is non-judgmental. He does not condemn the rich who give alms out of their wealth but He highlights the poor widow who gives more than anyone else and has left herself nothing to live on. But Jesus knew that she was aware of who holds her future. 

It is not about how much, but it’s about the heart with which it is given. True generosity is not about how much we give from what we can spare but giving what we can’t. The nameless woman gave all she had into the hands which holds everything – her hand in His. She felt safer now since she knew Jehovah-Jireh was able to trust and rest in Him. 

Selfless giving is affirming our trust in God’s goodness and providence by not counting the cost.  King David said in 2 SAMUEL 24:24 (NCV) – “I will not offer to the Lord my God burnt sacrifices that cost me nothing.”  Giving should hurt us, otherwise it’s not selfless giving. May be we are cautious because of financial uncertainty, but we can still be generous like “Miss World Giving” which is a testimony to the goodness of the Lord. 

We live in a selfish world and slogans like “I, Me, Mine” are getting louder and louder, it’s time for us to learn as well as teach our children to give selflessly, not counting the cost or expecting anything in return. Sometimes giving money seems to be easier than giving the essentials of life – our time, our presence, energy, abilities and even opportunities to others. Giving is sharing our lives and ourselves.  

The woman gave in secret, thinking no one saw. Unknown to her, Jesus watched and commended her genuine faith and crowned her with the title – Miss World Giving. 

 

Miss World Long-Suffering 

Luke 8:40-48 talks about a nameless woman with an issue of blood for 12 years. She was treated as unclean, must have been filled with shame, and had spent all her money on medication. She was broken, bankrupt, exhausted and hopeless. Probably she chose to live in seclusion, not wanting to face the crowd or mingle with others. 

In a crowded and populated world, often you and I get to feel lonely and side-lined owing to challenging situations; then we too opt for secrecy and withdrawal. We prefer to suffer in silence. This long-suffering is not just physical ill health, but involves mental, social, relational and financial challenges as well; it reflects long pending unanswered prayers that we go through for years without any ray of hope. The pain increases when we face humiliation and rejection by the society along with our inner ache of loneliness. 

Luke says she was weak and her strength drained, yet she would not give up. Her last resort of hope was to touch this Great Physician who can make her whole as well as holy. She is too ashamed to admit the nature of her illness in public, and perhaps even can be rebuked for mingling with others in her unclean state. But she was determined to touch Him. The timid became bold with absolute conviction of Jesus’ power to heal. She cast aside all inhibitions, squeezed herself into the crowd and touched the hem of the garment of Jesus. Jesus said, ‘Someone touched me; I know that power has gone out from me.'” (8:45-46). He will recognise when you touch Him and He will know that power has gone out from Him.  

The nameless woman who refused to see anyone, now stands among the great crowd to confess about the power of God and deliverance that she experienced. The Lord called her daughter and made her whole and holy.   Her story encourages and gives hope to all who are going through an extended period of suffering and hopelessness Jesus commended her enduring faith and crowned her with the title, Miss World Long-Suffering.  

Miss World Not Giving Up 

In Luke 13: 10-17 we find that Jesus was teaching in a synagogue on a Sabbath. In the congregation was a woman, a hunch back crippled by a spirit for 18 years. She was bent over and could not straighten up. May be she came to the synagogue week after week expecting a miracle. She never gave up on coming to the temple in spite of not getting much attention or probably being ignored by others. Not only was she looking down, but she was looked down. 

It’s interesting to note that while preaching, Jesus saw this woman and immediately called her forward. Many things amaze us in this incident:

  • Jesus was focused in his preaching as well as at looking into the details of the individual who needs healing and hope
  • Jesus made her come forward, in full view of the congregation who ignored her or perhaps gave her scanty attention
  • Luke writes, Jesus spoke deliverance “Woman, you are set free from your infirmity. Then He put His hands on her, and immediately she straightened up and praised God.” A double action – spoke the words of healing for inward hurt and a gentle touch of healing for the seeming deformity.  
  • The climax was Jesus calling her daughter of Abraham.  

The nameless woman was given an identity and dignity of being the daughter of Abraham.  Why Abraham, the man who never gave up on God by waiting for 25 years to see the promise fulfilled. 

We live in a masked world where judgements and opinions are expressed on the basis of outward appearance without understanding the inner reality of struggles.  May be some might walk straight but hide the hunch – burdens, worries, guilt, hurts and bondages. May be like this woman they long for deliverance. They come into our lives again and again. May be in a busy world, we are preoccupied with work and commitments, but let’s pause to see them like Jesus did. They need to hear the words of deliverance and receive the touch of God. They need to understand that their real worth is in the eyes of God who created them in His image. Look out for those who are brought before you week after week, year after year, who need to become sons and daughters of Abraham and walk in deliverance and victory from the Lord. 

Jesus saw her undying faith, declared freedom to this daughter of Abraham and crowned her with the title, Miss World Not Giving Up.

A genuine faith, an enduring faith and an undying faith made each one of these wonder women to be crowned as Miss World Giving, Miss World Long-Suffering and Miss World Not Giving Up.

About

Shalini Manohar

COO, Life Focus Society Shalini has been serving the Lord through LFS for over 30 years. She enjoys interacting with people, especially with younger ones, and living on a school campus gives those opportunities.

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