The Purpose of Scars

My son is very proud of his scars. He loves to share the stories of how they came to be, giving play-by-play accounts of how he got that scrape on his knee or the bump on his elbow. In vivid detail, he’ll describe exactly where he was on the playground, what he was doing, and how he tripped and fell or whatever other catastrophe transpired. If we’re lucky, we might get a re-enactment of the event, minus a repeat injury.

As much as he loves elaborating upon stories of his own calamities, he equally enjoys sharing how his friends got their ouchies. It’s not that he revels in their pain, but that he empathizes. When a friend gets hurt, he understands. He’s been there.

At times, I’ve seen him put his arms around the shoulder of a crying friend, sharing one of his many stories of just why he can relate to their pain.

Imagine a world void of such compassion. It’s terrible enough to suffer. And yet, to suffer alone?

Some churches falsely teach that we’ll never suffer. “Christ suffered in our place, on the cross,” they reason. “And by his wounds we are healed. Therefore, we’ll never be wounded.”

Yes, by his wounds we are healed. But have we forgotten that we also are called to be like Christ?

If he suffered, how are we to presume that we will live a life free of suffering? And if we are healed through his suffering, shall we not bring healing to others through our own suffering?

I’m not saying that we can bring the supernatural, all-consuming healing that only our Savior can bring. But I believe that through our scars we bleed blood-red compassion that brings others to know the healing that is found in Christ.

I’ve found that those who adhere to the false prosperity gospel tend to be most impoverished of compassion, judging and condemning those who endure any amount of suffering.

But I’ve also found that those of us who bear scars love on deeper levels than those who have not endured the fires of affliction.

We’re each granted our own share of battles that when we emerge victorious we might also battle on behalf of others. Financial lack frees us to empathize with those in poverty. Barrenness enables us to understand loss. Physical pain helps us to relate to those enduring far worse.

Given the choice, the selfish part of me would choose a more comfortable path. But I know there are greater outcomes when I endure the furnace of affliction with grace, allowing God to birth in me a deeper compassion through the fire.


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