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By David Bachelor, PhD
For most Americans, “normal” went on an extended vacation in 2020. A story in the headlines last week showed that there are places on the planet where “normal” has been gone for a much longer time. One such country is Lebanon. Strange to think that in Lebanon, the journey to “normal” could begin with a beauty contest.
The headline in Emirates Woman on Sunday announced, “Meet the First Miss Lebanon Crowned Since 2018.” The article points out that in addition to COVID, the Beirut port explosion in August 2020 partially destroyed the city and displaced 300,000 people. Right after the explosion in 2020 an editorial in the Cornell Daily Sun commented, “The sad reality is that Lebanon was already facing devastation before the explosion happened . . . due to pervasive corruption that has existed since the end of the civil war in the 1990s. This led to hyperinflation, famine and record-high unemployment, which have reduced this once proud nation to privation.”
The headline about the beauty pageant in Arab News was “Journalism Student Yasmina Zaytoun Crowned Miss Lebanon 2022.” This article focused on the salvific aspect of this event. The article quoted a member of the Lebanese Parliament who proclaimed, “Tonight, we’re celebrating Lebanon, not just Miss Lebanon.” This national leader also said, “The new beauty queen has to be the voice of the Lebanese people.” For all of its symbolism, the event was still a beauty contest. Arab News said about the finalists, “The lucky few hit the stage after being prepped and primped by the best in the business.”
The best Biblical illustration of someone using their beauty to save their country is found in the book of Esther. The book is the account of how God used Esther to save His people from an enemy who planned to destroy them. For Esther to accomplish her mission, she had to become queen. And for her to become queen, Esther had to win a beauty contest. To prepare for the pageant, Esther underwent six months of beauty treatments with oil of myrrh. She followed that regimen with six months of perfume baths (Esther 2:12). On the night of the beauty pageant, Esther let the king’s beauty consultant choose her ensemble (Esther 2:15). The effect was, “Esther had favor in the sight of all who looked on her” (Esther 2:15). She was selected over all the other contestants and was crowned queen of the empire (Esther 2:17).
When the time of the attack came, Queen Esther was in the position to rescue God’s people. Besides her beauty, Esther knew her duty to her people, and risked her life to do it (Esther 4:11). Let’s hope Miss Lebanon 2022 does not face such a severe trial. May her one-year reign bring some sort of normalcy to the people of Beirut.