We’ve All Got Our Scars
I bear on my body the marks of Jesus. Galatians 6:17
We’ve all got our scars. We’ve all experienced life-trials that have changed us for better and worse. Some of these hardships have been self-inflicted and others have happened through no apparent fault of our own. Either way, we’ve been shaped and molded by these trials, left with scars, demonstrating that we’re different people than we were before the struggle.
For me, my worst life trials have been caused by my own flaws and failures. I may not have chosen my self-destructive appetites, but I indulged in them to the point of addiction. In my addiction, I inflicted significant injury on my loved ones and myself. Looking back now, I’m obviously not thankful for the pain I caused others, but I can say that I’m thankful for my addiction. It’s made me a far better person than I ever would have been without it. That wasn’t accidental or automatic though.
In today’s passage, Paul spoke of his scars. To be clear, Paul’s physical scars were largely a product of his obedience. He was persecuted, arrested, shipwrecked, and beaten, all while following Christ. Though Paul’s scars weren’t a result of following his self-destructive nature, I believe he would agree that his scars – and the events that caused them – made him who he was. It was through his painful trials that God taught him faith and obedience. Again though, that wasn’t accidental or automatic.
Our struggles shape us and our struggles will always mean something. Once we’ve gone through them, we bear the lasting marks of those events. Have they made us better or worse? Life’s trials can make us bitter and resentful, or they can make us strong and resilient. The choice seems to be in how we respond to them. In our struggles, we can surrender to our natural instinct to become something worse than we were before. Or, we can daily take our trials to God, asking him what it is that he wants us to do with them. God, I can’t handle this on my own. What do you want me to do with it?
Often, it’s only in our struggles that God can teach us faith and obedience. In following his will, instead of our own, we will find transformation and growth. This doesn’t mean the trials won’t hurt and it doesn’t mean we won’t be left with scars. It doesn’t even necessarily mean that the trial will be removed. In giving it to God and following his will though, we will find that our scars make us stronger and better than we ever would have been without them.