Scars

Everyone has scars. Some of them are physical, like when they cut disease out of your body, or when you have an accident. Some of them are scars of the heart, like when you go through a divorce, or loose someone you love to death. Life is flowing along smoothly when it is abruptly interrupted. Both physical and emotional scars hurt when the wound is fresh, and life is disrupted. They are deeply personal. Whether you have been ripped open literally or figuratively, the pain is intense and real. The deeper the wound, the bigger the scar and the longer it takes to heal. Yet, we bear our scars. Bear means to hold up, remain firm under, to endure. The trials that produce these scars are heavy, but what choice do we have really? Life does not stop. I don’t know if you have noticed, but there are very few people who have not been through some sort of adversity. What you believe about God does not matter. Neither does how much money you make. There are no “safe” people who get through life free of wounds. I would have chosen not to have cancer, but I had it…and may have it again. You would have chosen to not loose your child, your husband, your parents. You would have chosen not to go to jail, to go through a divorce, to watch your wayward child fall. Fill in your personal trial here, the list is endless. But we don’t get to choose if we will have scars, the only choice we have is HOW we will bear them.
Jesus has scars. What can we learn from him? How did he bear the wounds that created his scars? Gracefully. I don’t know about you, but crucifixion is not exactly my picture of graceful, but since when have my pictures and God’s ever matched up? Jesus was led like a sheep to the slaughter. He didn’t utter a word in his own defense. He didn’t fight or struggle…he submitted to the pain. In that submission he might have appeared weak to the Roman soldiers around him, but his heart beat strong with a love for you that he was not willing to let go. It was that love which gave him the strength to bear the load placed upon his shoulders. He saw the bigger picture and he knew that love wins in the end…no matter what it looks like in the moment. Grace held him up. In our struggles, it is the same if we allow grace to bear the scars. We do not always see the bigger picture, but we do know how the story ends…no matter what it looks like. So we bear the weight of life’s troubles and carry them with grace…end of story right? Nope. There is more.
I have three boys. I found out when they were younger that scars are fascinating to little boys. They wear them like a badge of honor and show them off. They love to look under band aids to see the wound. They also love to gross out their sister and mother with the gore. Once the wound is healed, they like to re-live the story of how that scar first got there for anyone who will listen. We have had our fair share of stitches and broken bones in our house. Any of the three of them can still tell you their story, including the bloody details, trips to the ER, and resulting treatments. So here it is…they bare their scars. In this instance, bare means to open to view, to reveal, or divulge. (You gotta love homophones.)
Somewhere along the way to adulthood, scars loose their fascination. They become, instead, something we hide. We want them covered from view. I have gotten rid of some shirts because the scar from my chemo port shows. My point is that scars are really signs of survival, and sometimes even victory. Yet we hide them if at all possible. Physical scars, emotional ones, doesn’t matter…they are our secrets. I think that because they still ache from time to time, we avoid talking or sharing them with others. They are so personal that we hesitate. It is fear of pain, fear of rejection, or just plain old pride that causes this avoidance behavior.
Once again, we look at Jesus. Did you know that he will be the only one in heaven with scars? He will bare his…as he reaches to embrace us. They are plainly visible for all to see. They are what make him a relatable savior. He knows our pain. He feels the wounds. In my opinion, this is what draws us to him, his grace-filled, humble humanness. He is one of us. Yet, Jesus doesn’t stop in his humanness, because if he was simply a human he could not bear the weight of the wounds. His scars testify of his divine love for us. It is the supernatural kind of love that reaches down to draw us up. We have a God with scars. That could appear to be a weakness, but once again, he reverses the expected and does the opposite. He uses his weakness, a God who can be nailed to a tree and die, to reveal the power of his love to resurrect.
We can follow his example. In the same way his scars draw us to him, ours make us relatable to others. We can reach out with empathy, sharing our source of strength, or we can sit by, watch the suffering in the world, and do nothing. Our scars hold the proof that God can use life’s interruptions to bring freedom, healing, and victory. Like my boys, we can bare our scars and tell the story of how we got them. We can recount the details of our pain and how the Great Physician healed us. Ours scars testify of his love, because he is the one who gives us the grace to bear them…and to bare them.

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