Commending Beauty and Goodness in A Broken World

There were seven of them—older women, weathered with wrinkles and beaming with smiles. I don’t know much about their backgrounds, but I was told they were widows who used to live in poverty. When I met them, though, they spent their days with infants snuggled in their saris and chasing after rambunctious toddlers.

It was humble work—nothing that would earn promotions or prestige or accolades of any kind. But it was commendable work. It’s the kind that nobody sees, yet deeply affects the lives of orphans—including the life of my daughter.

I don’t know of many things more commendable than dedicating all your time and energy to care for the helpless. To love children like your own, knowing they could leave at any time.

My daughter’s nannies gave me a new appreciation for families involved in foster care. Those women spent 26 months caring for her, and, whether they realized it or not, they were laying foundations that would affect her life forever.

In those crucial early years of development, they helped my daughter learn how to attach to a mother figure. They taught her that she would be comforted when she cried. They fed her, clothed her, and made her feel safe. Their gentle and loving hands showed her how to give and receive affection.

I could never commend these nannies enough. At a time when my daughter was most weak and helpless, they chose to love her. And they did this, knowing they would say goodbye. Every time I think of them I’m filled with overwhelming gratitude. More than that, I’m reminded of God’s heart for the orphan.

In Philippians 4:8, Paul urges us to think about the commendable—those things that are admirable and deserving of praise.

This is not an encouragement toward shallow positive thinking. It’s an invitation to worship God, to find evidence of his nature and his redemptive work in a fallen world.

All of creation bears witness to the fall, and it’s easy to grow preoccupied with all that sin has broken. We are tempted to despair even as we groan for deliverance. Life is not as it should be, and the ache can be overwhelming.

This is why we must remember that all of creation bears testimony to God’s grace, too. There is not just sin and brokenness to lament, there is beauty and goodness to commend. But we must train our eyes to see it.

If we pay attention, there are people doing commendable work all around us—work that ultimately points us to the character of God.

When a mother gives her body to care for her newborn, we are reminded of the God who gave his body for us. When a powerful leader lowers himself to uplift the oppressed, we are reminded of the King who emptied himself for our sake.

Every act of generosity—whether it flows from the hands of a child, a widow, or a successful entrepreneur—points to the most generous Giver of all. Every exercise of sacrificial love that we witness or receive is just a taste of the love we have in Christ.

God is relentlessly working throughout all the earth to make himself known. And only when we have eyes to see will we be able to commend his work from one generation to the next (Ps. 145:4).

Author’s note: This article was first published at The Gospel Coalition

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