The Scars Remain

I remember some years ago having a very meaningful conversation with some people very close to me. The conversation drifted through talks about our individual struggles, and at one point a very interesting question was posed: what does healing look like – whether it is from physical, emotional, or experiential wounds – to the Christian? We discussed this question for a little while, and then moved on in our conversation.

As time has progressed, this question has come back to my mind over and over again. What does healing look like? Can it be fully experienced this side of eternity? I have experienced the wounds of pain, in all three of its aforementioned forms. For those unfamiliar with me, I have dealt with physical pain for the past 20 years, only recently having experienced any healing from it. There are different emotional and experiential wounds that accompanied this physical pain, though those wounds are not necessarily always linked to my physical pain.

I have known the depth and darkness of depression. I have felt lost in my sorrow. I have seen my wounds and felt that I am a victim of my circumstances. And by the grace of God, He has brought me out of those low places and given me a peace that surpasses what any drug can give me.

In the varying degrees of healing I have experienced, there are still scars, both physical and emotional. The nerve damage in my leg will flare up at times. Some event I experience will trigger a memory associated with pain, with former wounds.

When I look at my life, and I look at the wounds I have been afflicted with, I see a commonality to where I was focused during those moments of pain. Wounds drive us inward. We become absorbed in ourselves when we are wounded. Our gaze will rarely move beyond the hurt. And I see that in my life. I have known the depth and darkness of depression. I have felt lost in my sorrow. I have seen my wounds and felt that I am a victim of my circumstances. And by the grace of God, He has brought me out of those low places and given me a peace that surpasses what any drug can give me.

So is there a deeper healing than just living with the scars? What does true healing look like? I know that I am not in that dark place anymore, but does that mean I have experienced the most healing possible in this life? I have found a better understanding of the question in my experiences – but I find the answer in Jesus.

There is no greater wounding possible than what Jesus experienced. The physical torture of crucifixion, the emotional pain of being forsaken by His Father, and the experience of bearing the weight of the sin of the world…I cannot comprehend it. And yet, Jesus could. He was able to look beyond the cross to the promise of the resurrection, to the defeat of sin and death, and to the reconciling of us sinners. And it was joy to Him (Hebrews 12:2).

It’s as if Jesus is saying, “Thomas, let me remind you what I’ve been through. Let me tell you my story, let me show you my scars.” And so we see, in Jesus’ scars, the glory of God displayed.

After experiencing so great a wound, we read on to find Jesus, alive, with a resurrected body. But something about His resurrected body makes me curious. We read in Luke 24:39 and John 20:27 that He has scars where the nails pierced His hands and feet, where the spear entered His side. He bears, on Himself, the evidence of His past wounds. Why is this? We know that He was able, if He wanted, to have a resurrected body void of these scars.

And yet, they remain.

I have no way of knowing this for sure, but I suspect that, when eternity is upon us, and we find ourselves with resurrected bodies, the scars of our wounds from living under the curse of sin will remain. Upon first thinking of this, the thought, “I hope not” comes to my mind. In our fallen world, scars are undesirable. But, consider this – when Jesus appeared to His disciples after being raised to life, did He not show Thomas – who doubted – His scars? And what was the result? Did it not instill in Thomas a belief that Jesus was truly alive? Did it not bring glory to God? It’s as if, in sharing His scars with Thomas, He was giving His testimony. And in doing so, Thomas believed. It’s as if Jesus is saying, “Thomas, let me remind you what I’ve been through. Let me tell you my story, let me show you my scars.” And so we see, in Jesus’ scars, the glory of God displayed.

And so, I feel that I have understood on a deeper level what true healing looks like. In the midst of being wounded, there is joy that can be found in the promises of God, that our suffering is not in vain (Romans 5:3-5). There is healing that comes when these wounds become scars, but there is deeper healing. It is only when we look at our scars and see not the pain and the shame of our past wounds, but the glory of God, that we experience this deeper healing. It is when we rip our gaze off of ourselves, and on to the sovereign God, who works all things together for the good of those who love Him (Romans 8:28). It is then that we experience true healing; when we see the glory of God in our scars. We can find hope in knowing that Jesus not only experienced the greatest wounding, but the greatest healing too. And if we are children of God, then we are heirs with Christ. And though we suffer through wounds with Him, we will also be glorified in the healing with Him (Romans 8:17).

I will call it a sovereign healing.

It is only when we look at our scars and see not the pain and the shame of our past wounds, but the glory of God, that we experience this deeper healing. It is when we rip our gaze off of ourselves, and on to the sovereign God, who works all things together for the good of those who love Him (Romans 8:28).

I have been on a mission lately. I want to see and know all the ways that God is showing His glory around me. And I want the same for you. I want it to change us. I don’t think we can see the glory of God and not be changed by it. When we suffer a wound, we must ask ourselves, “Where is God showing His glory in this?” And so, in every trial, in every wound, we will seek out the glory of our Lord in it. We will find joy in the glory of our Lord displayed in our scars.

Oh wondrous day it will be, my brothers and sisters, when we can gaze on the scars of our Savior, and not see the shame of sin, but the glory of victorious grace. For His scars are the reminder of our healing (Isaiah 53:5). And in every one of our scars, there is etched the glory of the grace of God in our inmost being, as we were being transformed from one degree of glory to another (2 Corinthians 3:18). All praise and glory and honor unto the Lamb who was slain, who bore our sins, and who bears the scars of our healing. Yours is the glory.

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