Like the spine of a good book, scars, by their very nature, imply there’s a story to tell. They represent a wrinkle in time in which a person’s life is changed forever, and serve as a permanent reminder of an incident that, in one way or another, has made a lasting impression on one’s life. Calvin pulls up his pant leg to reveal where two bullets pierced his flesh during the Korean War. Beth applies heavy makeup to hide the remains of an abusive boyfriend’s tirade. Rachel tugs on her shirt sleeve to make sure it covers the daily reminder of her suicide attempt ten years earlier. Like a trophy, four-year-old Bobby points out his badge of courage on his once scabbed knee.
Each scar on our bodies represents a moment in time or a passage of time when something happened to us or through us, which we will never forget.
I have several scars on my body, and each has a story to tell. One is smack dab in the middle of my forehead. I earned it in the third grade during a dirt clod fight when someone cheated and threw a brick at my head. After the stitches were removed, my hair never grew back.
Another is on my right shin bone. I acquired this one when I was eleven-years-old after a poor attempt at shaving my legs for the first time – totally disobeying my mother’s rule that I had to wait until I was 12. Then there’s the one on my lip from when I once again disobeyed my mom, crossed a busy street to visit a friend and promptly fell onto a board with a rusty nail that poked through my face. I have another one on my knee from absent-mindedly riding my bike into a parked car, and yet another on my forehead from accidentally poking a pencil right through the skin.
But perhaps the most painful scars that I bear are the ones you cannot see. You know the ones I’m talking about. We all have them. They are the scars on our hearts and in our souls. The scar of rejection from a father who didn’t know how to love me. The scar of growing up in a home riddled with alcohol and physical abuse. The scar of the disappointment at the loss of a child. The scar of broken dreams.
We receive scars in one of two ways: what has been done to us by other people or what has been done through us by our own poor choices. Either way, I believe that scars are not something that we need to hide or be ashamed of, but rather an invitation to share the healing power of Jesus Christ with a hurting world. For a scar, by its very definition, implies healing.
One Easter I was reading the story of Jesus’ resurrection and it struck me … the disciples did not recognize the risen Christ until He showed them His scars (John 20:20). He could have chosen to appear without His scars, but I believe they were important to Him – that’s how people knew who He was. Likewise, I believe that just as they recognized Jesus by His scars, others recognize Jesus through ours.
Because I experienced years of infertility and the loss of a child, I am able to tell of Jesus’ power to heal emotional wounds and restore broken dreams. Because I grew up in a home filled with violent outbursts of anger, passive aggressive silence and parents who did not know how to show love to their children, I can share about how God mends the broken-hearted child within. Because I struggled with feelings of inferiority, insecurity and inadequacy, I can encourage others to embrace their true identity in Christ and stand with confidence. The scars I bear are living proof that God heals.
In 2 Corinthians, Paul wrote: “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows” (2 Corinthians 1:3-5). God does not comfort us simply to make us comfortable. God comforts us to make us comfort-able … able to comfort other people.
No one can encourage a women struggling with depression like the woman who has come out of that same darkness and into the light. No one can help a man struggling with addiction to drugs, alcohol or pornography like a man who has had the same addiction, but is now free. No one can help a woman who is struggling with a wayward teenager like the mother who has welcomed a prodigal home. No one can help a man or woman struggling with the pain of a shameful past like someone who has embraced the grace and forgiveness of Christ.
I want to encourage you today: redeem the pain of your past by investing in others. Reject the lie that what has been done to you, or even through you, disqualifies you from ministry. Those past hurts or mistakes may very well be the springboard for ministry that God will use in your life. But that can’t happen until you take off the mask and be real – until you stop hiding the scars of your past and tell your story.
John wrote, “They overcame him (Satan) by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony” (Revelation 12:11, NIV). Incredible power is released when we drop the chains of bitterness, fear, and shame to show the world our scars. Because Satan knows that our stories are instrumental in his ultimate defeat, he will do anything and everything to convince us to keep the treasures hidden away. Oh dear one, God is calling us to not be ashamed of our scars, for it is by those very scars that others will recognize the Savior, Jesus Christ.
Perhaps you’ve never thought of the wounds in your life as potential treasures. I encourage you to dig a little deeper, push aside the dirt, and discover the jewels that lie beneath the surface. Like sparkling diamonds, glistening rubies and shimmering emeralds, your scars are beautiful to God.
Let the redeemed of the Lord tell their story. —Psalms 107:2, TNIV