Biting into a chocolate chip cookie from a fresh package, my wife, Connie, discovered too late that some tiny, voracious red ants had begun enjoying the cookie before her. In horror, she spat out the cookie AND the ants—but not in time to avoid the undeserved bites that caused her lips to swell up painfully and grotesquely.
After several uncomfortable days the swelling subsided—to our considerable gratitude, but in the meanwhile, every look in the mirror reminded her of the embarrassingly bulging lips. Connie felt strange about her (temporarily) disfigured face. She was now self-conscious about how people would look at her. This realization led to further reflections on what it’s like for people with permanent deformities. We are all sensitive about our appearance. In numerous interviews with people whose appearance is “irregular,” their response is “I just want to be like everyone else, and to be accepted for the person I really am on the inside.”
Universal Need for Affirmation
Deep down every one of us needs affirmation of who we are on the inside. If we are honest, there is an essential longing to be valued, esteemed, accepted, appreciated and loved. In fact, the search for love is, foundationally, a longing for another to say to us: “You are worth it! I honor you. You are of such value to me that I am ready to give you my whole heart, my whole life!”
If it’s not what people view on the outside, then what IS the basis of our worth? Am I to be ever dependent on the feedback of others to feel I’m valuable? Or, in the other trap—can I ever escape the inner critic, the perfectionism that would leave me persistently and agonizingly dissatisfied with ME?
Discovering my True Worth through the Cross and Creation
I did not know my true worth until I saw Yeshua on the cross. This happened in an absolutely supernatural encounter, which led directly to my receiving Him as Savior and Lord in October, 1972. In a waking vision I saw His eyes transmitting to my heart what my mind could not grasp. “I know you, your deepest longings and your failures. All your efforts to be good have fallen short. But my love for you is not conditioned on those efforts.” In a moment I understood that He was hanging there as an everlasting statement: “You, Eitan, are worth the agony I’m going through.” The undeserved death of the perfect Man on my behalf, revealed my true value.
We are informed back in Genesis 1 that mankind—male and female—are made in God’s own image and likeness. “Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness…So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” Even this fact alone imparts an unfathomably great level of worth to each and every person. In fact, the cataclysmic struggle over this “bearing of God’s image in the world” began in the same Garden and has continued throughout the horrors of history. The enemy is out to curse, mangle, and accuse us until we are hopeless, dreamless, lifeless. Yet the very effort to subvert the Divine design of God’s nature imparted to humans (2 Peter 1:4) confirms the centrality of that design. If there is such promise in our innate value that we are hated for it, then it is worth fighting for. If the Author of the Universe has planted in us His own likeness, then no one can rob you of supreme value!
Yeshua intentionally reached out to lepers and prostitutes, the “off-scouring” of society, publicly demonstrating their worth. How then will He not also touch us and impart His authoritative affirmation? For it is His act of total sacrifice that permanently defines your worth and mine. That is what I saw in a vision of His face. This reality destroys the lie that I am a worthless failure. “Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us” (Romans 8:37).
EITAN SHISHKOFF, Pastor Emeritus
“Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Yeshua our Lord, as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in this world through lust” (2 Peter 1:2-4).