I am sure everyone is familiar with sign language. In times of emergencies we see some government worker using sign language for the hearing impaired. Did you know what is the sign that signifies “Jesus?” You point the third finger of one hand to the palm of the other hand. The risen Christ is identified by the nail scars in his hands.
We learn a profound lesson from this. The risen Christ does not come to new life without the scars, the marks of his struggle with darkness. Instead of being wiped away by some sort of divine plastic surgery, those scars become the evidence of his risen life. The wounds left by his suffering and death on the cross become the identifying marks of God’s goodness and love.
After our struggles with darkness, the scars remain as identifying mark of the God who takes our weakness and transforms it into strength, who takes our failure and turns it into victory.
Everyone has scars. No human being has ever escaped from them. I was burned when I was 12-years-old. My right leg and side are scarred today from almost being burned to death.
We also have emotional and spiritual scars. Emotional scars are sometimes unseen, but often when people have not dealt with the causes of the scars, you can see them in people’s faces, especially their eyes. They are the result from attacks on our self-esteem. Usually, it involves some kind of rejection or put down especially from those we love and trust.
A person who grew up with negative criticism as part of everyday life is usually emotionally damaged and scarred. It takes a long while to work through this destructive criticism. However, with openness and persistence, a person can become the individual that God wants him or her to be.
Spiritual scars arise when we block God’s blessing from our life. This often happens because some significant person in our lives expressed doubt or disapproval of our creative dreams and we project that same attitude onto God. We don’t believe God wants us to do this or that. Or maybe we were raised with being afraid of God so we sat in the back of church all of our lives and were afraid to come up to the front and get involved in worshiping a God who loves us.
Jesus’ scars produced hope and encouragement. Jesus appeared to his followers after his resurrection in a peaceful, blessing the disciples, ministering to their immediate needs for reassurance that it was truly he. Jesus invited Thomas to touch his scars. The disciples rejoiced when they recognized Jesus from his scars. This empowered them to move on.
Scars are not easy to deal with. Before a wound can heal, it must be seen and exposed to the surface, to the light and air. Physical scars are easy to expose. Emotional and spiritual scars are more difficult to deal with because of the shame associated with them. “What will they think of me once they know I have a drinking problem, a drug problem, a gambling disorder, a sexual problem, whatever?” “Will my church still accept me?”
These very thoughts block the healing power of God’s Spirit. When we prevent the Holy Spirit from working in our lives, we reject new life. However, when we painfully recognize and name our scars, we receive the new, abundant life that God desires for each of us. Let us trust in our loving God who wants to heal our wounds.