Dr. Phil: Scars. Not something we usually want to talk about or perhaps admit to. Yet I would suggest that they are important reminders of God’s faithfulness as we face the future.
Like most of us, you may have picked up a few physical scars over your lifetime. I still have a significant “zipper” on my thigh where a power saw cut my leg in Uganda in 1993. Every time I see it, it is a reminder of God’s faithfulness in sparing my life on that day. But we also have other types of scars that we accumulate over a lifetime such as emotional, mental, psychological, and even spiritual ones. Remembering what these scars represent is important as we move forward.
As we reflect on the pandemic of 2020 and anticipate things eventually becoming more “normal,” it is likely that we have accumulated a few scars over the last year. While some people may have come through unscathed, others have experienced either physical loss of a loved one or friend, or perhaps the loss of not being able to adequately grieve and bring closure to a loss. Other scars may include a loss of purpose and control as one’s livelihood or business has been affected, or perhaps social and emotional ones as we have not been able to meet with family and friends and gain their support.
Often when we get through to the other side of a tragedy or loss we want to forget it and put it behind us as quickly as possible. And yet the scars are there to remind us that it actually happened… and that moving forward our suffering can have a purpose. Initially, the scars may actually negatively reinforce the trauma, but in time we can allow them to remind us of His faithfulness.
In our book, Roads less Traveled I used the metaphor of “stones” (Joshua 4) as a remembrance when the Israelites passed through the Jordan river. They gathered twelve stones and made an alter on the river’s bank as a reminder of what God had done that day. Scars can serve this same purpose.
Having a scar signifies that we went through something, even though the wound may have healed and no longer be life threatening. I am not sure if 2020 “scarred” you in any way, but if it has, I hope that you will use those scars to remind you of what God has (is) teaching you. Then this experience will not be wasted, but we can allow God to increase our dependence on him and then enable us to comfort others on the other side of the experience.
It is natural for us to want to forget or hide our scars, rather than wear them as badges. Yet even Jesus – in his glorified body – had visible scars. I am sure God could have made them all disappear after his resurrection, however, they remained as visible signs in his hands and his side. It would seem that they will be visible for all eternity; reminders of what He went through for us.
As followers of Jesus, he also would like to use our scars as reminders of his faithfulness and an encouragement to others along the way. So once we get through to the other side of this particular pandemic, whatever scars you may have received along the way, I pray that they will prove to be reminders to you and provide a promise of His future goodness in your life.