Written by Agnes Lee, Singapore
Church was crowded that Sunday. My family and I took seats in the back. A woman standing up from her seat in front of me quickly caught my attention. Her body was perfectly ladylike, with a small waist and a nice hip.
“I wish my body was as beautiful as hers. She is so perfect,” I thought to myself. My build is boyish, and though I have always desired a tiny, well-defined waist, I most definitely do not have one. This is something I have struggled with for a long time, and I couldn’t help but compare my body with hers.
During worship, such thoughts continued to distract me. It was a battle to stay focused on the songs. The Bible says that believers must worship in spirit and in truth (John 4:23), so I kept praying and asking God to remove the struggle from my mind, and to keep me focused on worship. I could not worship in spirit when my mind was struggling to focus. My worship was not truly from my heart. It was just an outward display that is not pleasing in His sight.
One of the songs we sang was “Glory to the Lamb”. I was wrestling with my thoughts when the lyrics suddenly spoke to me—God is all glorious, and He became the lamb that took away our sins. His resurrection conquers all our struggles.
I Am Made For God’s Glory
He is greater than my struggle! I can lay my sinful thoughts—of dissatisfaction with my body and distraction during worship—down at His feet. As I surrendered my struggle in God’s presence, I prayed that He would guard my mind and my thoughts so that I could focus on Him.
As the song ended, I felt a prompting in my heart, saying, “Honor me with your body. Follow My ways and My righteousness, and you will be My glory.” At first I wondered if I was out of my mind, because it seemed unimaginable that I could be God’s glory. But now I think I understand what it means: when we choose to walk in His ways and righteousness instead of giving in to our struggles, God is proud of us, just as a father is proud of his own child.
The Bible says in Psalm 139:14 that we are fearfully and wonderfully made, and His works are wonderful. God made no error in our creation, and it is God’s intention for each of us to look unique as His handicraft. He has given us different looks and different talents according to His purpose for our lives. It is only by following His ways and His righteousness that we can fulfill God’s unique will for us in each of our lives. When we live out God’s unique purpose for us, we will shine and be His glory.
I realized that there is no need to compare my body with others’, because comparison distracts us from fulfilling God’s unique purpose for each of us (James 3:16, Proverbs 14:30).
Walking in God’s Ways
I was moved by this thought. God Himself is already all glorious, but yet He says that we will be His glory when we walk in His ways. The Bible tells us that God created us for His own glory (Isaiah 43:7), and reminds us to live worthy lives, “because God is calling us into His kingdom and glory” (1 Thessalonians 2:12).
God should be our ultimate focus, not the size of our physical bodies. By focusing too much attention on my body shape, I dishonor God and His creation. Instead, I can seek to honor God by not trying to watch my calories, or not exercising excessively in order to look like that skinny model on the runway. In fact, we need not even worry about what we eat, because the Bible reminds us that the kingdom of God is not about eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit (Romans 14:17).
This does not mean that we can eat whatever we want, but if we focus too much on our diet or exercise in seeking to achieve our ideal body shape, we are robbing ourselves of the joy and peace of the Holy Spirit. And by focusing on our body image, we idolize our own bodies. If we idolize our own bodies instead of allowing Jesus to satisfy us, how can we effectively point others to Him?
Because God created us, He counts us as His own. He urges us to turn to Him and live our lives focused on Him, so that we can inherit His kingdom—that has no end—and His eternal glory. My heart stirred with a sense of belonging, that despite my struggles with my body image, God still holds me close and assures me that I am an heir of the glory He would bestow.
I am reminded that our bodies are only temporary tents for our dwelling on earth (2 Corinthians 5:1). As co-heirs with Christ, we can take heart that God will eventually transform our lowly bodies to be like His glorious body (Philippians 3:21). With these truths in mind, I am determined to walk by faith and not by my own sight, to make it my goal to please Him while I dwell in my earthly body so that one day, I may receive what is promised (2 Corinthians 5:7-10).
For a long time, I felt like I would never be able to surrender my struggles with body image. But God used worship to draw my heart back to Him. He reminded me that my sin is already conquered, and that I am made for His glory.
Worship Leads Us to God
I am convinced that worship is meant to lead us back to God. When we worship in spirit and in truth, we come into His presence and allow Him to purify our thoughts. When we keep our minds focused on Him during worship, we set our minds on things above, not on earthly things that will eventually fade away (Colossians 3:2). When we sing praises to God, we fix our minds on the presence of God and allow ourselves to be captivated by His beauty that is beyond comprehension.
As we soak ourselves in His sovereign presence, we begin to surrender our own sinful desires and allow Him to renew our spirit. God is attentive to our needs, and always ready to help us (Psalm 34:15-17). When we give God our whole heart, He will speak into our situation and struggle. Worship is an opportunity for us to lay down our weary struggles at His feet and be purified by Him, so that we can live freely for Him and inherit His glory.
Every now and then, I still struggle with my body image, but each time I come before Him in true worship, He frees me from the weight of my struggles.
When I was a new believer, I used to think that we had worship time so latecomers could arrive before the sermon started and would not miss the beginning of the sermon. But now I realize that each encounter during worship is an opportunity for me to experience God’s powerful presence. I do not want to miss it.