Today, I want to talk about scars. A scar, simply, is a place where there has been an open wound, but now it is closed and healed. Some are from accidents, some are from surgeries, some are even self-inflicted. But they’re not only limited to our flesh. Many of the scars we have are emotional, mental, and yes, even spiritual at times. We all have them. If they’re not on our flesh, then they’re somewhere else—in our mind, heart, or soul.
Scars are always associated with pain, hurt, or injury. We’ve all been hurt at sometime in our lives either physically, mentally, emotionally, or spiritually, and many times there’s a scar been left behind. The devil likes scars, because he can use scars. They make it easy for him to remind us of where we’ve been hurt in the past.
But scars aren’t just about pain, hurt, and injury. They’re also about healing, and that’s the part that the devil doesn’t want us to think about. As long as we’re thinking about the hurt, we’re not thinking about the healing that has taken place. He doesn’t want us to think about Romans 8:28 where it says, “And we know that all things (good things and bad things) work together for good to them that love God, to them who are called according to His purpose.” He doesn’t want us to glorify God by looking at something that was a bad thing, such as an injury, and seeing it as a good thing, such as being healed. He wants our focus to be on the injury, the pain, the agony, and not the good work that God the Father has done.
Paul wrote in Galatians 6:17, “For I bear in my body the marks (or scars) of the Lord Jesus.” I always wondered what Paul exactly meant by this. To me it seemed if he had some kind of stigmata or something. But that’s not the case.
We read later in 2 Corinthians 11:23-28 that Paul suffered great persecutions for the sake of the Gospel. Here’s a list of what all happened to Paul that’s written of in 2 Corinthians 11:
He was beaten on five different occasions, given 39 stripes across his back each time, for a total of 195 lashes with a whip.
Three times he was beaten with rods.
He was stoned once. That’s where people throw rocks at you until you are dead.
He was in three different shipwrecks and had spent a full day and night floating around in the ocean.
He was also in constant danger of rough seas and sea creatures, being robbed, wanted by the law, other people wanting him dead, living on the streets, living in the wilderness, and being betrayed by what he calls “false brethren.” He often went thirsty and hungry, was tired and in pain quite, cold with not enough clothes to wear. Once, the governor of Damascus had the entire city guarded and Paul, to avoid being arrested, had to be placed in a basket, stuffed through a hole in the wall around the city, and then lowered down with a rope to escape on foot. He went through all of this, not to mention his day to day burdens, plus his care for all of the churches.
I imagine that Paul had a lot of scars, and the scars, or marks, that he had were truly the marks of Christ, because they were there for the sake of the Gospel.
In 2 Corinthians 12:10, Paul writes, “Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.” He knew that there was a greater purpose. He knew that all things work together for good, to those who love God and who are called according to his purpose. He never suffered in vain. Those scars served a purpose, just like our scars do.
Paul’s scars listed earlier were a reminder of what God had done for him. He had been beaten five different times with 39 lashes each time. The scars were proof of how God delivered him all five times. He had been beaten on three different occasions with rods. Those scars showed him that God held back the hand of death all three times. He was stoned once. Those scars reminded him that no weapon formed against him could prosper. He had been shipwrecked three different times and had spent a full day and night floating in the ocean. Those scars were God’s promise that he would never leave us or forsake us.
It is not the fact that Paul’s life was in constant danger, it’s the fact that each and every time he was in danger, God delivered him from the hand of death, and he had a scar to prove it.
In John 20:9-29 we read where the disciples were hiding from the Jews. Jesus had been killed, and now his body was missing from the tomb where he had been buried. The disciples were scared. They had themselves locked in a room. Nobody was getting in—and nobody was getting out.
Suddenly, Jesus appeared to them out of nowhere. What a miracle! Close your eyes for a moment and try to imagine this scene in your mind: The disciples are behind locked doors and Jesus appears. He shows them the scars in his hands and in his side, speaks to them, breathes on them, and then just as he appeared, he disappeared.
When Thomas shows up, the other disciples told him about this great miracle that just happened, how Jesus had risen from the dead and had appeared to them—out of nowhere.
Thomas responds to this miracle with, “Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe.”
Eight days later, same disciples, same room, same door still shut and locked. Thomas is still with them. Jesus again appears out of nowhere. The very same miracle!
Jesus says to Thomas, “Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands, and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side, and be not faithless, but believing.”
Thomas answered him and said, “My Lord and my God.”
See here’s the thing: As Christians we’re supposed to “walk by faith, not by sight.” But those who are out there in the world, don’t walk the way that we do. For many, seeing is believing and they have to see something before they believe it.
Thomas was limited to only being able to believe what he saw. He had to see scars before he could believe the miracle. There are people out there just like Thomas who have to see proof of a miracle. The scars on Paul’s body was proof of the miracles of God delivering him. They could see them and they could believe his testimony. Each scar has a different story. You don’t go through life looking like that unless you have a story to tell of how you got that way.
Each one of us has scars from some type of accident, injury, or operation. We’ve all had our pain and our heartaches. We all have scars on our bodies, hearts, and minds. I have a scar going down the middle of my stomach, one on my lower abdomen, and one on the left side of my chest, which serve as proof that God healed me of cancer. The tumor was on my left side, lodged between my kidneys and my aorta artery. It was about the size of a baseball and had 4 different types of cancer. They also removed all of the lymphnodes in my left side. Those are my scars.
Where are your scars? What has God delivered you from? Tell your story! You did not suffer in vain. There was a reason and a purpose as to why you went through what you did. So do not hide your scars, instead display them to everyone. You bear the marks of Christ in your body. Those scars that you carry become a part of the Gospel—the Good News. You have been delivered by the hand of God and that is good news. Show the world so that they too may believe.
Romans 1:16 says, “For I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth…”
Eric Johnson wears many hats! Husband, father, organic church planter, pastor, preacher, conference speaker, worship leader, songwriter, cancer survivor, and a semi-retired professional stand-up comedian, Eric has been really blessed over the years to have the following artists close the show for him: Hawk Nelson, 7eventh Time Down, The Josh Gilbert Band, and Shinebright. Eric makes his home in majestic mountains of Bristol, Tennessee, with his amazing wife, Crystal and their son, Kyle. Follow him at @EricIsGuitarted.