The other disciples told him, “We’ve seen the Lord!”
But Thomas replied, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands,
put my finger in the wounds left by the nails, and
put my hand into his side, I won’t believe.”
-John 20: 25 CEB
It is once again the season for wearing shorts, and I am bearing my legs again after the long, cold winter. And since I am in shorts, the scar on my knee is now visible. I received it on the Fourth of July when I was about 10 years old.
We were camping with another family at an area state park. And just as kids did back in the 1970s, we ran wild from dawn until dusk, pausing only long enough to check in with our parents and grab some food.
This park had a dam that created the lake, and it allowed the overflow to run over the dam. The dam was constructed in a stair-step design of large rectangular stones. We decided to walk across the bottom row of stones, and it was heavily covered with slippery moss.
As luck would have it, I slipped and fell on my knee. The result was a gaping wound. My parents rushed me to the local hospital where they stitched me up, and made sure I was back in time to enjoy the fireworks with family and friends.
Unfortunately for me, that wound would not heal completely because the emergency room did not clean it out sufficiently. It is one of the many visible scars on my body from a life of adventure.
There was an unseen scar that summer, as well. Because of the infection in the knee, I spent the rest of the summer with my leg elevated on the couch. I missed out on the long-awaited tennis lessons that were to start after the holiday. I could not swim at the outdoor pool. And, as my bike gathered dust, my friends went on with their summer fun without me.
My life has been marked by the scars I have acquired. Some are visible, and some are not, due to scarring of the heart. The life of trauma started with the divorce of my parents when I was 11 years old. Growing up in a single parent home with visitation back and forth every other weekend was a challenging road.
Then, fast forward to today, and I bear the scar of my late husband‘s death almost six years ago. And I bear the scars of being single, including the woes of on-line and in person dating. The challenges of learning to do life with yet another person.
Still, my scars are a part of me. They have shaped who I am today. They will continue to shape how I view the world and my day-to-day life. And while the scars might shape my view of life, I have chosen NOT to let them DEFINE my life. On the contrary, I have worked very diligently to overcome the impact of my scars.
In the wake of Easter, I am reminded of Jesus’ scars. He appeared to the disciples who were hiding from the authorities on the day of Resurrection. Jesus showed the scars in His hands, feet and side to the disciples. They were amazed and believed Jesus had indeed risen.
Yet Thomas was not present for this event, and so he questioned the validity of the Risen Christ. About a week later, Jesus appeared again, and Thomas was there, and he finally believed. Of course this is the event where Thomas receives his nickname, Doubting Thomas. (see John 20: 19-30)
I have to wonder if Thomas really doubted, or was it something else? Could it be that Thomas needed to see the scars of Jesus to know for certain that Jesus, the Savior of the world, suffered trauma and received scars just like he did? Perhaps Thomas needed to know that Jesus’ scars were redeemed by God, and so would Thomas’s scars.
I know that God has redeemed the trauma in my life. The Lord has healed my wounds that were forged from disappointment, broken relationships, and grief. God has done this by coming alongside me in my grief. By guiding me through the broken relationships. God has redeemed the many disappointments I have amassed in my lifetime, including in the wake of my husband’s death.
It’s humbling to realize that God has redeemed my hardships out of a place of love and grace. God does this by coming alongside me to bring comfort and pour down peace. God does this because God came to Earth in human form as Jesus, and, as a result, knows what it is like to suffer trauma just as we do.
Sometimes this really overwhelms me, especially when I feel so alone in my grief and heartache. Yet time and time again, God has given me the tools I need to be resilient. To navigate the hard things. God has done this by sending people into my life… my tribe of people who surround me in love and support. God has done this by reassuring me in my prayer time that I am on the right path or not so much. And whether I choose to listen to God or not, it is totally up to me.
The thing about God is that I get to choose my own way. God guides me, but I get to choose whether to follow or not. And what might seem like God’s plan actually turns out to be a detour on the path away from God’s plan. Sometimes this is where I experience the trauma and receive even more scars.
Still, wherever I choose to go, God goes with me. And not by making it easy, but coming alongside so I know that I have Someone in my corner who knows me best of all. One who knows what will make my heart sing. One who knows the people who will have my best interest at heart.
FOR FURTHER THOUGHT
What are the scars you wear? How can God help you name and overcome your scars? Where are you longing for God’s guidance in your life?
The best way to answer these questions is to quiet your mind and calm your surroundings. To allow God to speak to your very soul. To spend time in God’s Word, and in conversation through prayer.
God longs for us to put our trust in God. To seek God in prayer for guidance and support. We need not do life alone because we may always call on God for guidance and support.
A song that has sustained me time and time again is Danny Gokey’s, “Tell Your Heart to Beat Again.” A phrase in there that provides profound peace is this:
Let every heartbreak
And every scar
Be a picture that reminds you
Who has carried you this far
'Cause love sees farther than you ever could
In this moment heaven's working
Everything for your good
God really is working everything for good, even my scars. So I will lean into the One who wants to heal me, inside and out!
Lord God, it is overwhelming when I realize that You suffered like I do. Guide my breaking heart to a place of peace so that my open wounds will heal and scar over. I thank You for sending people into my life who offer support and love. What a blessing! In Your Holy Name, Amen.
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