We all have scar stories.
We can glance down at our arm and see a scar from a wound we received some 30 years ago and memories flood into our mind of that particular event. In 2013 I had surgery to fix some stuff in my abdomen. Although it was mostly laparoscopic, the surgeon still had to cut a two-inch opening in my gut. I didn’t think much of it until the pain meds wore off and it really began to hurt. My 4-week journey of healing and recovery had begun. That scar still sits there, looking pink and harmless yet reminding me of another time where all I could think about was the pain.
This last year-and-a-half at RBC has been a difficult injury to deal with. And I have noticed that reactions vary in response to this pain that has been inflicted upon us. Some remain stoic, some cry, some try and run away from it.
This wound is beginning to heal, for sure, but what remains is a scar that tells quite a story.
No one wants to be reminded of this pain the we have endured at RBC. Indeed, sometimes all I want to do is forget it and just move on! Can we just move on, please?! Yet, Paul was clear in his letter to the Philippians in 1:29 when he says, “For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake…” And Peter reminds us in 1 Pet 2:21:” For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps."
My first thought in response to these verses is, “Why would God want me to experience this suffering?” This goes against what our flesh wants, for sure. I want everything clean, spotless, happy. And yet unmarked flesh shows nothing endured. When Thomas was presented with Christ’s resurrection he would not have it at all. He wanted no part in the madness. Thinking he would stump the other disciples he says (and I paraphrase), “Fine then. Show me his scars and I’ll believe.” And then Jesus shows up! What does He present Thomas? His white robe? His perfect body? Nope…just His scars and wounds. Thomas’ response to the scars was…ready?....worship! He fell on his face and declared that Jesus was God! Those scars were proof of the Fathers faithfulness to bring His Only Son through the worst agony ever endured and proof that God’s promise of new life is sure.
Remember that pain is a tool in the surgeon’s hand.
Pain presents the fact that something is wrong and we need help! We need to rely on Someone bigger than our problems!
The scar that will be left when this season of suffering is over here at RBC will be a large one, no doubt, and it will most likely be pretty ugly. But it will serve as a reminder that this suffering is part of God’s plan for us. It will serve as a reminder that healing is part of God’s plan for our us. It will serve as a reminder that we needed a savior and at just the right moment in history, God sent His one and only Son into this world to save it through His incredible love and sacrifice for us!
I can’t wait to see my Jesus’s precious scars someday…
May God’s peace and love embrace you this season,
Tom Marsala (RBC Worship Pastor)