Jesus said…”If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free…So if the Son has set you free, you are free indeed.” – John 8:31-32, 36
The only reason we can be free is because of Christ. When you confess your sins and accept Jesus as LORD and Savior, He heals you, but the reason He has the authority to heal you is because He died an excruciating death on the cross.
“But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquitites; upon him was the punishment that brought us peace, and by his stripes we are healed.” –Isaiah 53:5
Many of us have heard this verse quoted to explain what occurred that day on the cross at Calvary, but I want to dig into it a little deeper. Notice the words used to describe Jesus’ experience: wounded, crushed, punishment, stripes. All of these connote extreme pain, the first three all suggest physical injury and abuse, but the last seems rather vague, so I want to focus in on the fourth: stripes.
Usually, when one thinks of stripes, one thinks of horizontal or vertical lines used as a pattern for clothing, interior decorating, or on a zebra’s hide. However, on definition of stripes is “marks.” I believe that in this passage, when Isaiah uses the word “stripes,” it does not simply mean “wounds,” but it goes deeper than that, meaning Jesus’ body was marked in His hands and feet from the nails, His side from the spear, and His back from the whips. Not only was Jesus wounded, but after He was raised from the dead, He still had the scars from those wounds. “Doubting Thomas” did not believe Jesus was alive when the disciples told him they had seen Him.
He said, “‘Unless I see in his hands the MARK of the nails, and place my finger into the MARK of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe.’” –John 20:25b [bold and caps mine]
Then Jesus showed up and let Thomas touch His scars, or “marks,” from where He had been wounded, and Thomas believed Jesus truly had been risen from the dead.
Jennifer Beckham writes in her book Get Over Yourself!, “Have you ever wondered why God had the ability to raise Jesus from the dead, yet He never bothered to remove the scars?” (189). I hadn’t thought about it until I read her book, but after thinking on that concept for a while, I realized there MUST be a reason for God purposefully leaving scars on Jesus’ body, despite the fact that when He was raised from the dead, He was perfected in His body and restored to His high position at the right hand of God.
When a cut or a wound heals, it often leaves a scar behind. I believe God allowed Jesus to retain His scars to remind us that He was human also and experienced trials and temptations just as we do. They make clear to us that it is okay to have a past, to have been tempted, to have experienced pain, to have sinned and messed up. Scars are leftover from past hurts to remind us of what we’ve walked through and how God has healed us.
Your scars may remind you of your past, but you can use those memories to show others where you’ve come from and how you never intend to go back. Jennifer says, “If He [God] intended for us to forget the past, He would have also erased our memory of it when He forgave us, just as He would have healed us without scars if He wanted us to forget about what happened there” (203).
Yet once you have been completely healed by God, those scars left over from your past pain will be transformed and become your story. Your scars are a testimony – tangible proof – that there was once an ugly wound, but now you’ve been healed and restored by God. No one can refute or argue with your story, you own it and it will forever testify of God’s love, grace, and healing lavished upon you.
As Joyce Meyer says, “there is always a why behind the what.” Your scars, whether physical, emotional, or spiritual, are the greatest storytellers of all time, and, as Jennifer Beckham puts it, “God wants us to use our past to minister to someone else’s future” (203). Allow your scars to speak hope and healing into someone else’s life today. If you believe your testimony is not important, know this: your story is invaluable (essential, priceless, indispensable) to defeating the enemy, Satan, AND to sharing God’s love with others.
“And they have conquered him [Satan] by the blood of the Lamb [Jesus] and by the word of their testimony.” –Revelation 12:11
Remember, your testimony is important and powerful: it could literally change someone’s journey and transform them from death to life! Someone is waiting on you; don’t let the shame of your past prevent you from changing his or her life!
My prayer for you and for me is that we would each tell our stories and that they can reach someone who is going through what we’ve been through. The title of my blog is “If scars could talk.” Why not allow your scars to talk?! They have a unique story to tell! Think of that person out there whose life would be changed forever IF ONLY your scars would talk…
Underneath my scars
There is more than you can see
The pain goes deep and far
And the scars come naturally
But underneath those scars
Is more than meets the eye
Look beyond the surface
Search underneath my scars
And you’ll find
His love goes so much deeper
I have a hope for life
There’s more than just a scar
Left over from before
There is so much more to me
Underneath my scars
There is a girl
Who is dying to be free
From the shame and misery
Because underneath those scars
That they all judge and define
Is the me that is reality
The scars I cannot hide
But if you search underneath my scars
You will find
I’m not just a line
Raised above my skin
Left over from a knife
I’m not what I have been
I’m not just the one who cuts
There’s more to my story
Just look underneath my scars.
How will you know I am hurting,
If you cannot see my pain?
To wear it on my body
Tells what words cannot explain.
–C. Blount (English deistic writer) [1654-1693]
Scars are the results of the natural healing processes of the body; which occurs when the body suffers and injury. The body’s defenses rush to save the injury, and as the injury heals, scars form. In fact, the skin does not heal exactly the same as it was before. Scar tissue is inferior to normal skin because scars are flat and lightly colored as a result of less access to blood, sweat glands are damaged or destroyed, hair doesn’t grow back there, and there is less resistance to ultraviolet radiation. Scars form as the result of injury to the dermis, a layer of skin that is deep and sensitive. Collagen fibers surge to the injury when damage to the dermis layer of the skin occurs.
“It’s not so much how deep a wound is that determines whether a scar will worm, but rather the location of the wound and that person’s genetic tendency to form scars” says Brian Flyer, a doctor from California. The type of scar that will form depends also on the person’s age, heredity, sex, nutrition, and of course the severity of the wound.
There are several types of scars:
1. Hypertrophic: raised and often red lump on the skin, form when wound is under tension thereby raising the healing tissue; occurs when there is an overproduction of collagen.
2. Keloidal: like hypertrophic but more serious because they can continue growing into a large neoplasm, spread beyond the boundaries of the original injury, raised hard growth that forms because some bodies rush in a lot of collagen to the injured site and the healing tissue is more than is required; can occur on anyone, but are more common in dark-skinned people.
3. Atrophic: opposite of hypertrophic and keloidal, leaves depressions in the skin, these are sunken recesses in the skin which have a pitted appearance, caused when underlying structures such as fat or muscle are lost so they cannot support the skin; associated with acne, chickenpox, surgery, and accidents.
4. Acne: pitting caused by the stretching of pores, aka atrophic
5. Contracture: flat, tight scars that constrict movement, often caused by burns
6. Stretch marks: caused when skins is stretched rapidly (such as during pregnancy) or put under tension during healing process (near joints); usually improves in appearance after a few years.
Scars can never be completely removed; there are supplements such as vitamin E and creams to help speed the healing process of scars, but they will never completely go away. There are surgeries available to remove scars but often the surgery will produce another scar and there is no guarantee the former scar will be less obvious. Topical treatments, radiotherapy, steroids, dermabrasion, laser resurfacing, and injections of collagen are other options to rid the body of scars. There are many methods to treat scars as well; however, even with all these methods, there is no way to absolutely remove a scar.
The truth is, cutting really is black and white. There is a little red splashed in there as well, of course. But with cutting, life you see is in plain black and white. You see only the good (white) or the bad (black), and usually life is always black. In a cutter’s world, there is no gray area. None. There is only cutting or there is not. There is “I’m alright today” and “I’m totally seeped in misery and destructive passion today.” The middle ground just doesn’t exist. There is no gray. I have a theory that the reason there is absolutely no gray in a cutter’s world is because the things in life are always at the extreme end. One extreme is being alright, knowing at this moment you are surviving life and not hurting yourself at the same time. The other extreme occurs much more often; cutting. It happens. There is no denying it. It is a black pit of endless dark misery, loneliness, and pain that in those moments you cannot escape from the hole.
Imagine the black side as the blackest of blacks, on from which to climb back out is an impossible feat indeed. The white in your life is barely a glimmer. Mostly your days are black; but some days, you have that small “light at the end of the tunnel,” very far away that is just a tiny glint of white. But that is what gives you hope. The light if seen in its infinite brightness would blind and absolutely astound you! But you long for it, because it is the love that Jesus has for you and you know it. Most days you go without the white except that glimmer in the corner. But everyday if you focus more on the white of Christ more than the black of cutting, that small light gets just a little bit brighter and you can see a bit more in the blackness. You have hope.
I am an empty shell
Raging, ripped open
Sewn up at the seams
If scars could talk
They would tell you of my pain
And speak anger as they mock me
Only tears and fears remain
If scars could talk
They’d speak a thousand things
That no one else knows
How you hide in the dark
And cut up your dreams
How your knife drags real slow
Through your delicate skin
And you watch your blood flow
If scars could talk