“But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh…
“So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4:7-11,16-18
Certainly Paul had scars. He’d been stoned and lashed, imprisoned and shipwrecked. His body bore scars from angry affliction at the hands of enemies of Christ. The Lord had ordained he’d suffer for His name, and that persecution left scars. (Acts 9:10-18; 27:27-44; 2 Corinthians 11:23-27; Philippians 3:8-10)
But Paul counted them a privilege. They were not raw and painful but healed, smooth reminders of his Savior etched in skin and soul. And he loved his Savior. Jesus had rescued him from a wasted life and appointed him to meaningful apostleship, and his greatest honor was to bear the glory of His identity in serving Him.
Sometimes we suffer deep hurt, when we’re caught off guard and a past experience we’d not thought about in eons resurfaces to reopen a wound. Other times we are stung by ridicule or alienation for our faith, or doing the right thing. Is it always the enemy at hand, tempting us to lengthen our pity-list? Or is the Lord simply reminding us to ‘think on what is true. You may always have scars, but I bore that pain and healed that wound at the cross. These marks on My hands and feet are mercy and love reminders that I finished the work of suffering for you.’? (Philippians 4:8)
Every scar signifies something cut, removed, excised, or peeled away. Blood shed. If we are serious about wanting to know Christ, we embrace the meaningful message they bear. Would my scars draw me closer to Him?
“Hast thou no scar?
No hidden scar on foot, or side, or hand?
I hear thee sung as mighty in the land;
I hear them hail thy bright, ascendant star.
Hast thou no scar?
Hast thou no wound?
Yet I was wounded by the archers; spent,
Leaned Me against a tree to die; and rent
By ravening beasts that compassed Me, I swooned.
Hast thou no wound?
No wound? No scar?
Yet, as the Master shall the servant be,
And piercèd are the feet that follow Me.
But thine are whole; can he have followed far
Who hast no wound or scar?” ~Amy Carmichael (1867-1951)
Father, may I bear Your scars with gratitude and grace, and in every mark make You known and exalted.