FIRST-PERSON: The scars we carry

Tags: scars

EASLEY, S.C. (BP) -- I have a lot of scars on my body. Most of them are from my childhood and teenage years. I can go back in my mind and relive the event that led to the injury.

I got the scar on my right foot, for example, riding on the handlebars of my brother's bicycle as a child. I will spare you the gory details, but there is a story connected to every scar that I have.

You probably have some scars too.

Not just the physical kind, but scars from painful experiences you have endured. Perhaps you have emotional scars from your childhood or from a previous marriage. Maybe your scars are from the trauma of sexual abuse. Or your scars may be the result of drug or alcohol abuse.

At some time in life, we are all part of the walking wounded. If you are in a painful experience right now, or if you have the scars of a painful past, you may need 2 Corinthians 1:3-4: "Praise the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort. He comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any kind of affliction, through the comfort we ourselves receive from God."

The apostle Paul writes as one who knows trouble to those who are in trouble. He explains that God comforts us in all our "affliction." The Greek word for affliction is interesting. It refers to being under a pressure that is so great that we struggle under the weight of it.

Sometimes problems enter our lives and they become a burden that is almost more than we can carry. It may not show on the outside, but on the inside, we hurt, and we don't know how we're going to handle it.

Paul reminds us that God offers comfort to those who are wounded. God's comfort doesn't mean that our problems will go away, but it does mean that we can receive the strength, encouragement and hope we need to deal with our hardships.

Here's the amazing part: God can actually turn your scars into a ministry.

Have you ever thought about what a scar is? A scar is simply a wound that has healed. God heals wounded people, then He uses their scars to help others who are hurting.

Once you have let God heal your wounds, He can turn your scars into something redemptive for others. Who better, for example, to minister to a couple that has lost a child than another couple who walked that dark road and found comfort in God? You may not feel it now, but God can make you a blessing to other people with broken hearts.

Every scar has a story behind it. You can't change the past, but with God's grace and comfort, you can change the future. Let God bring healing into your life, and then watch God use your life to bring healing to others. One day you may be able to look into the face of a distraught and brokenhearted person and say, "God knows, and He cares ... and He heals."

Only someone with scars can minister like that.

Keith Shorter is pastor of Mt. Airy Baptist Church in Easley and a former president of the South Carolina Baptist Convention.
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