There are two types of scars my friends, those that can be seen and those that cannot, the external and the internal. Those of the flesh are not so easily hidden, sooner or later someone will question the origin of the torn skin that healed, the arm or the leg that is missing, the patch over the eye, and the story will need to be recounted again, sometimes in detail, at others with just a passing sentence or two. The trauma will need to be relived, the words describe the memories, and the cringing looks from the hearers will be accompanied with, hopefully, words of compassion for the event. Sooner or later, someone will see the scars again, and once again the story will be told, the scars will become invisible, as it were, to close family and friends, children will ask the inevitable innocent questions of how they arrived upon you, and others as they pass you on the street will sometimes stare, saying nothing, but envisioning the scenario in their minds as to how these incidents came to pass upon you.
“Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one.” (2 Cor. 11:24) How many times were gasps heard when Paul removed his tunic, how many needed to turn their heads, or found tears falling from their eyes, and how were their thoughts modified of him when he spoke of the reason for the scars, well over one hundred stripes taken for the One by whose stripes we are healed. (Isaiah 53:5) Thomas would not believe until he could put his hand in the hole of our Savior’s side, and saw the scars of the nail prints in His hands. Our Lord has decided to keep His scars for all of eternity, a reminder for us of the price paid for us. I do not know if we will see the scars from where they ripped the flesh from Him, I will know someday.
Scars show the outside world that we have received physical damage, that we are indeed frail and mortal, and it is the wiser man that reminds himself of these truths, they remind him that one day the body will cease to function, and it is the wiser man still that searches out the things of the eternal, for he knows that he is not his body, his fleshy temple is no more an instrument, a tool that he incorporates to exist on this earthly sphere. If the body is damaged in such a way as to cause even those whom you know best to be unable to recognize you, yet the mind is not damaged, are you still not you, until you were to see yourself in a mirror, would you not think of yourself the same as before the occurrence that modified your external appearance? Would those who truly love you still accept you, would friends that are blind think any differently about you, would you not still be you?
There is another type of scar though, ones that can change the perception of ourselves in such a way as to modify the very thoughts that we have of ourselves, the internal scars. Ask the man who deeply loves his wife the perception he has of himself after he finds out that his true love has been in an adulterous affair, speak to the loving wife of her inner thoughts about herself when she has just been informed that her husband has been addicted to pornography for the last five years. Try to explain to a grown woman that she is loved with a love that will never end when she can still easily recall all those who told her for years, even decades, that she was useless and unlovable, and you will be able to see that the interior scars do not heal as quickly as those of the flesh.
It is easy to see the scars upon the flesh of almost every one of us, but it is impossible for the mind and body to bring fresh anew the exact moment of that pain, to recall it with the same intensity that was present when we first received it. Not so with the scars of the heart, the pain and intensity of some of these moments can be brought to mind at a moment’s notice as if they just happened yesterday, for these traumatic events are associated with our emotions. To recall the moment that one who was excepted by a normal society to love and nurture you, to care for you, encourage you, to desire you, and then to recall that exact moment that they said, “I wish you were never born” is to bring instant tears to the eyes, and a deep sadness within the heart that is as fresh as if it just happened. To be cast away, to be thrown away by all, to find that the one you love no longer loves you, to see yourself as useless to those that you need, is a pain that for some never heals, and even if they have no external scars, even if they are beautiful or handsome in the eyes of others, inside themselves they are ugly and useless, as unlovable as the most decrepit person on the face of this earth.
The scars of the heart our Lord knew full well. “Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the LORD revealed? For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him. He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. (Isaiah 53:1-5)
Sorrow and grief, these are the scars of the heart, and they will remain as fresh and new as the days that they were inflicted, until you give them to Christ. This is not a platitude that you may have heard from others my friends, there is a way that this can be done, there is a way to make this pain go away forever. The way is forgiveness, true and honest forgiveness for the sake of Christ. You must be able to see those who inflicted this pain on you in two separate ways, and both are the truth. They were wicked people, I do not care if the world and everyone that is in it saw them as good people, they were wicked, and the wrath of God abides upon them. (John 3:36) But you must not hate them, or even hold the slightest grudge against them, you must forgive them, (Matt. 6:14) and love them. They were your enemies, and you are to love your enemies, (Luke 6:27) and until you do this, the wound will never heal. Did you know that the skin that covers the wound, the scar, is stronger than the surrounding skin, think on that for a moment.
The other thing that you must do is this, you must remember that every moment that you received a wound of the heart, an internal tear of your spirit, that your Lord was standing right there beside you, even before you came to your accepting faith in Christ. We were chosen before the foundation of the world, that means even before you accepted Christ as Lord, He knew you as one of His own, and He has promised to never leave us or forsake us. (Deut. 31:6) He was right there beside you when these events happened, and he allowed them to happen, and do you know why? So that you could learn to forgive, you could learn to love, so that you would have a scar of righteousness, and so that others would see Jesus in you.
Oh, those internal scars are such a blessing when we know the truth, for that truth has set us free from guilt, from shame, from anger and hatred. The scars of our own body remind us that we are but dust, the scars of our heart teach us compassion, and that compassion compels us to search out others who are hurting. We learn thru suffering and we have a choice as to how we accept that suffering, but we must always remember this, that nothing, not one thing happens in the life of the follower of Christ that is not first allowed by Him to happen to us. If you’re going to blame anyone then for any suffering that enters into your life, you must then blame God. Puts an entirely new perspective on the term “forgiveness,” doesn’t it? Only He can put a scar over that open wound, and only He on the day that you meet Him can, and will, remove even that scar.