Our baby girl, Lauren, is getting married this weekend. She and Chase are stepping onto that wonderful risk-reward tightrope called marriage.
She is excited, ready, anxious, and absolutely committed to make this marriage the best. We have great hope for these two because of the Someone who serves as the bedrock of their relationship.
Poised on the brink of this huge moment, it was no surprise that over appetizers and wine she asked us some hard questions.
She wanted to know how we made it through the crises that have destroyed many other marriages. How did we forgive, overcome, move on and recover from the tough times, painful moments and intense challenges involved in living and loving together for 34 years?
She wanted to hear how it really was. She didn’t want a pep talk, she wanted transparency. She wasn’t interested in canned answers or pre-packaged advice. When you are standing on the edge of adventure ready to take a leap of faith into the realm of the unknown, you need unvarnished truth and unretouched reality.
She was really saying, “show me how you made it…show me that I can make it to…show me your scars.”
Scars are marks that survivors carry which announce to others “you can make it”. They are the remnants of healed wounds that trumpet the message “it was worth it”.
Scars sing to the broken, “you will make it”; they shout to the struggler, “just keep breathing”; and they scream in the face of life-sapping, pain-inciting, tear-inducing reality, “do not quit”!
Thomas wanted and needed to see the scars of Jesus after the resurrection (John 20).
Sure, it caused him to be dubbed “the Doubter”, but his faith was shattered and his hopes lay in shards at his feet. He ached to believe, he longed to hang on to the Kingdom dream, he was desperate to keep the Jesus-story alive–but he needed something real on which to place his trust.
He didn’t ask for another person to be raised from the dead, some more blind eyes to be opened or another smorgasbord to be produced from a boxed lunch. He didn’t want another sermon on a mountain, another parable of a Kingdom or another promise of a home in the sky. His pain was too real, his frustration too intense, his disappointment to keen and his sorrow too deep.
This depth of pain could only be touched by someone who had already made it through much worse and had the scars to prove it.
So Thomas went scar gazing.
“Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.” Thomas boldly declares, “Show me something more immediate than my suffering, more real than my fear, more powerful than my questions. Show me your scars.”
Jesus did…and Thomas was never the same.
Later, an old completed Jew named Paul traveled around the known world sharing hope with those who were staking their lives on those very same scars. To fortify their strength, he showed them his own scars.
Paul was saying, “My pain is His platform. My struggle is His battlefield. My tears are His river of compassion.” Over and over he told fearful followers of the agony and opposition he went through to show Jesus to the world and how he made it through.
These young believers who were persecuted because of Jesus–opposed for their allegiance and ostracized for their love–needed someone to step up, pull back the religious robes and show them the scars of a survivor.
Paul uncovered his scars and with the smiling wisdom and quiet confidence of a survivor said:
- Don’t give up now— “…we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”
- You can make it— “…in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.”
- It is worth it— “…our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.”
These were not empty words, trite euphemisms or religious drivel. These were real truths from real scars.
Surviving the depth of our pain, the complexity of our struggles and the intensity of our failures requires hope that rises from deeper wounds than we can imagine.
The stripes from the lash, the punctures from the nails, the piercing from the spear and worst of all, the lacerations of Jesus’ eternally pure and untainted heart, have once and for all declared over you and me: you will make it, you will win, you won’t be sorry.
He gives us indescribable hope and unmitigated confidence that is bigger than our struggles and deeper than our pain. Look up!
It’s in the scars.