TURNING SCABS INTO SCARS
I have a tiny little scar on my right index finger. It is really hard to see, but you can feel it is there. The day I got it is etched deeply in my memory.
It was a hot August afternoon, on the day I turned 15. I was in the kitchen washing dishes after lunch. As I swished the dishrag around in one of our old green glasses, it cracked in my hand and gouged deeply into my finger. Immediately, I pulled my hand out, and gasped at the sight of all the blood.
My whole family was in the kitchen, and they all gathered around to see what had happened. My mom began to wash the wound, and Dad got out his smelly salve, that was supposed to heal everything. He applied it to the wound, and then wrapped my finger with gauze and tape. I did feel a little smug as I walked away from that pile of dirty dishes, but wasn’t sure if the pain made it worth it.
The wound hurt for a while, but the worst part was how difficult it was to do the simplest tasks. I would fumble with my shoe laces, or drop my brush when combing my hair. It seemed like everything took so much longer because of the cut on my finger.
Throughout the next couple of days, the pain began to diminish, and a scab formed over the wound. Before long, the scab fell off, and there was a layer of soft pink skin where the cut had been. Eventually, a scar appeared, and every time I see it, I am reminded of that day.
This little story makes me think about the wounds we get on our hearts. While the wound on my finger came from a glass, and caused me some pain, a wound inflicted on our hearts by others, can leave a deep sea of grief that can take a lifetime to heal.
What are the wounds in our hearts from? For some it is physical, verbal or sexual abuse. For others, betrayal or rejection.
I had an incident in my life, when a deep wound pierced my heart. Just like the day my finger was cut, I remember the deep waves of pain crashing over me. I remember the pain literally squeezing my heart so hard, I had trouble breathing at times. David describes this kind of pain so well in Psalm 6:2-7:
“Be merciful to me, LORD, for I am faint; O LORD, heal me, for my bones are in agony. My soul is in anguish. How long, O LORD, how long? Turn, O LORD, and deliver me; save me because of your unfailing love. No one remembers you when he is dead. Who praises you from the grave? I am worn out from groaning; all night long I flood my bed with weeping and drench my couch with tears. My eyes grow weak with sorrow; they fail because of all my foes.”
David cried out to his Heavenly Father in the midst of his pain. How many times have you felt like David in verse 6, “worn out from groaning; all night long I flood my bed with weeping, and drench my couch with tears”?
I am so touched at the memory of my dad’s love and concern for me the day my finger was hurt, and even more blessed that our Heavenly Father’s love and concern for me is far greater than any our earthly parents can give us. Jeremiah 8:21&22 says, “Since my people are crushed, I am crushed, I mourn and horror grips me. Is there no balm in Gilead? Is there no physician there? Why then is there no healing for the wound of my people?”
When I was reeling from a crushed heart, suddenly, there was my Heavenly Father, wrapping His arms around me, allowing me to grieve, and comforting me. Psalm 103:13 says, “As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those that fear him.” We need to turn to the Lord when we are in pain. When we don’t allow our Father to minister to our pain, to bring us comfort, the wound is left open and bare. It is then vulnerable to the environment around it, and becomes susceptible to infection and disease. He is the Great Physician! He longs to bring healing to our broken hearts.
In times of pain, fear and loneliness, I have found so much comfort in Psalms 18. The chapter starts out with praise to God, and then tells the story of how God rescued David, and saved him from his enemies.
“I love you, O LORD, my strength, the LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge. He is my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. I call to the LORD, who is worthy of praise, and I am saved from my enemies. The cords of death entangled me; the torrents of destruction overwhelmed me. The cords of the grave coiled around me; the snares of death confronted me. In my distress I called to the LORD; I cried to my God for help. From his temple he heard my voice; my cry came before him, into his ears. The earth trembled and quaked, and the foundations of the mountains shook; they trembled because he was angry. Smoke rose from his nostrils; consuming fire came from his mouth, burning coals blazed out of it. He parted the heavens and came down; dark clouds were under his feet. He mounted the cherubim and flew; he soared on the wings of the wind. He made darkness his covering, his canopy around him--the dark rain clouds of the sky. Out of the brightness of his presence clouds advanced, with hailstones and bolts of lightning. The LORD thundered from heaven; the voice of the Most High resounded. He shot his arrows and scattered my enemies, great bolts of lightning and routed them. The valleys of the sea were exposed and the foundations of the earth laid bare at your rebuke, O LORD, at the blast of breath from your nostrils. He reached down from on high and took hold of me; he drew me out of deep waters. He rescued me from my powerful enemy, from my foes, who were too strong for me. They confronted me in the day of my disaster, but the LORD was my support. He brought me out into a spacious place; he rescued me because he delighted in me.
Isn’t that awesome?!? When we cry out to God, His response is amazing. The earth trembles and quakes... dark clouds under His feet. He reached down from on high and took hold of me; He drew me out of deep waters. I am so glad He is on my side!
Verses 16 - 19 are so beautiful. They are the picture of a father reaching down and picking up his child, and comforting them.
My husband, Tim, came home the other day to find a frazzled wife, trying to prepare supper, while three children were crowding around for mom’s attention. Baby Corey was sitting in his walker, crying his little heart out. As soon as Tim walked in the door, Tyler and Amy ran to jump up in their father’s arms. He hugged them close, then set them down and rescued the sobbing baby from his walker. Speaking softly, Tim soon had Corey calmed down, and it wasn’t long till I heard Corey giggling. Tim “rescued” Corey, because he loves Corey. He DELIGHTS in him.
This is an earthly example of a father’s love for his child. Yet, what comfort we can find, in knowing that our Heavenly Father, longs to pick us up and comfort us. He wants to help us find reasons to “giggle”. He wants to delight in us. We need to allow ourselves to be held. To listen to his words of comfort. He wants to “heal the brokenhearted” (Psalm 147:3)
Another similarity that I find between my physical wound and my spiritual wound, is how awkward I felt. While I struggled with simple activities like combing my hair, when I hurt my finger, I found myself struggling with an awkwardness around people, when I was carrying a wound on my heart. I was bombarded with concerns that “everyone is talking about me, nobody else is dealing with this kind of pain, everybody thinks they are better than I am”, etc. It began to show on my face that something was wrong with my spirit. Psalm 38:11 says, “My friends and companions avoid me because of my wounds...”. And that is how I felt. It seemed as if there would never be joy in my life again. Healing wouldn’t come. For months, I carried a raw open wound, and the pain of it only grew worse everyday.
Soon, I rejected my Heavenly Fathers ministering to my wounds, and allowed it to fester and burn with pain. Some days the pain wasn’t too bad, but then I would pick at that scab, open up the wound, and I was soon wallowing in my misery.
What did I need to do to find healing? I needed to forgive the one who had inflicted the wound. But I had come to the conclusion that that was IMPOSSIBLE. God could not ask that of me! And I WASN’T going to do it!!
So my life became so focused on my pain that I could barely function. I experienced days when all I could do was cry. If it required forgiveness to find healing, I wasn’t interested.
How do you forgive the unforgivable?
Darrell Scott writes in Rachel’s Tears, about his experience in the death of his daughter Rachel. She was seventeen when she was killed in the Columbine school shootings. He writes, “People respond differently to tragedy when it strikes their lives. Some never get over it. Others become bitter and angry, and that is easily understandable. However we are given the opportunity to experience a realm of grace that is incomprehensible to some when we choose to forgive. Were we angry when our daughter was killed? Yes! Were we sad? Beyond description! But are we forgiving? That is probably one of the most difficult issues to face when you have been so deeply wronged.”
He goes on to say, “Our understanding of God’s heart left us only one choice, the decision to forgive. It was the choice of Jesus as He hung on a cross dying. He said in Matthew 5:43-44:
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”
Forgiveness is not just for the offender. It is also for the one who is offended. If we forgive, we experience a “letting go” or cleansing process that frees us from the offender...
Unforgiveness blocks God’s ability to flow through us to help others.”
I had chosen not to forgive, but one day, I was faced by my offender, and asked to grant forgiveness. Wow! What a struggle! I battled with hanging on to my pain and bitterness. My wound was raw and festering. I couldn’t see any benefit in forgiving, but I said, “With God’s help, I will forgive you.” I cannot describe the peace and joy that washed over me. It was instant relief! From that moment on, healing began! I had finally allowed the Great Physician to stitch up the wound in my heart.
Now, I have a scar on my heart, and when I look at it, I remember what happened. I remember the pain I experienced; I remember how infected it got. But I look at it with a peace, because my Heavenly Father has brought healing.
But I have also learned that there are scars that always have a measure of pain. Some of our scars on our hearts are healed and we never experience pain from them again. The scar on my heart is one of those that still shoots pain through me, at times when I least expect it. But with that pain comes a reminder, of all the healing God has taken me through already.
I do wonder from time to time, “Why did that have to happen? But I am content in the healing God has granted. The scar tissue on my heart has made me stronger.
What are the wounds in your heart? Are you picking at the scab? Are you wallowing in pain, wondering if you will ever find joy in life?
Look to the Father. David wrote about his tears in Psalm 6, which we looked at earlier, and he finishes up his crying with these words, “The Lord has heard my weeping. The Lord has heard my cry for mercy; the Lord accepts my prayer.” As His child, He wants to bring you healing. He wants to turn your scabs into scars.