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Wednesday, April 17, 2019

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Our scars can be the identifying marks of our strengths

Our scars can be the identifying marks of our strengths

To communicate the word for “Jesus” in sign language, you point the third finger of the right hand to the palm of the left hand and then do just the opposite with the other hand. The nail scars in Jesus’ hands identify the risen Christ.

Even Jesus Christ does not come to new life without the scars, the wounds, the marks of his struggle with darkness.

Instead of being wiped away by divine power, 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.

It is the same for us as we wrestle with the dark times of our lives. After our struggles with darkness, the scars remain as identifying marks of the God who takes our weakness and transforms them into strength, who takes our failure and turns it into victory.

Everyone has scars. I was burned when I was 12-years-old. My right leg and side are scarred from almost being burned to death. I am sure all my readers have stories about their physical scars.

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 the scar marks in people’s faces, especially their eyes. These scars are the result of 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 in a home where negative criticism was part of everyday life, is usually emotionally damaged and scarred. It takes a long time to work through this type of destructive criticism. However, with openness and persistence, a person can become the individual that God wants him or her to be. Even after a person works through these emotional put downs, the scars remain.

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 believed that God did not want us to do this or that. Maybe our parents raised us being afraid of God so we kept our distance from Divine affairs.

Jesus appeared to his followers after his resurrection in a peaceful manner, 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 encouraged and empowered them to move on with their lives.

New life comes out of the pain of our scars. Scars are not easy to deal with. Before a wound can heal, it must be seen and exposed 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?”

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 wants for each of us.
When Thomas believes that Jesus is alive, his confession, “My Lord and my God,” is stronger than any of the others. It often happens that a doubter becomes the staunchest of believers.

We all have doubts and questions. Do not be afraid of them. Develop an intelligent faith. Jesus offers us the same invitation he offered to Thomas. “Do not doubt, but believe!”