As I Was Saying is a forum for a variety of perspectives to foster faith-related conversations among our readers with the goal of mutual learning, even in disagreement. Apart from articles written by editorial staff, these perspectives do not necessarily reflect the views of The Banner.
The disciples were discouraged. Their Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ, was killed just a few days earlier. They feared for their own lives. They often would go into a room and lock the door just in case someone wanted to get rid of them like they did Jesus. On one of those nights, Jesus appeared to them in the room where they sat, full of fear, discouragement, and despair.
What is interesting to me is that Jesus still had the wounds from his crucifixion. Why would Jesus keep these wounds? Many disciples were there to witness him and be encouraged in their faith, but Thomas was not. He heard them talk about Jesus’ appearance and said he wouldn’t believe it until he put his hands in Jesus’ wounds and in his side.
I have always been intrigued by this story. Why would a resurrected Jesus keep the wounds that killed him on the resurrected body? I think about this in terms of my own body as well. I suffered a patellar tendon rupture of my left knee in 2016, and you can bet the first thing I want to get rid of in my new “glorified” body is that scar. What if it doesn’t happen? What if it’s still there?
We have incurred many scars over the past two years as a nation and in our personal lives. Our nation has scars from centuries of systemic racism. The U.S. government has scars because of the past few years of political tension. Oh, did I mention there was a global pandemic going on?
Many of us have incurred physical and emotional scars during the past two years. Here are some things I have learned about these scars.
- It’s OK to say it’s not OK. I have had sadness, grief, anger, and pain over things outside my control. Can’t leave the country? Can’t go to the restaurant? Can’t visit my loved ones? Can’t sit in the hospital with ones who are sick? People: Wear. A. Mask. Feelings of isolation due to social distancing. All of these things make it normal to say, “All is not well.” Pretending you’re fine is the last thing you should do.
- Talk about the scars. Feel. Do not suppress, escape, or medicate the pain of circumstances. Get with some people with whom you can go deep and share your heart. Share your frustrations, pains, and tears. Vent. It’s healthy to get the monster out of your head. Take a note from the book of Psalms where David shares his heart and scars with God in beautiful, authentic prayers. This is not the same as complaining—although Habakkuk did do some complaining to God, and it was all good.
- Find small things that give life. Even though there’s lots going on that is hard, there are some beautiful things going on: the sunshine on the trail, the sound of water rushing by; the birds singing, the wind blowing, and the bonfire in the evening with some friends. Savor and count these things that are life giving. Name yours, and then add a dose of it regularly. Situations could be bad, but they’re not ALL bad.
- Accept losses. There are circumstances that are beyond your control. This is part of life. And in relationships, it takes two. So if the other person is not willing or able to contribute to the relationship, that is a loss you must accept. For example, I know a person who has a family member that continually blames him for things going wrong in their relationship. The other person will not take responsibility for his/her part of the relationship. My friend can do nothing to change the mind of the family member, and so it is a loss for him. He realizes until the other makes changes, the relationship is at a stalemate. He has tried to address and confront, but to no avail. This is a loss, because he longs for a relationship with this family member, but his hands are tied until the other family member is willing to own some of the relationship.
- Remember you are not alone. Not only are there other people who can relate because they have been there or are there now, but our God has been there. He knows loss, anger, pain, sadness, grief, and crazy circumstances. God also has put people in your life that can help you during your times of need. Maybe a family member, friend, pastor, or mentor, there are people God put around you for such a time as this. Get on a zoom call or a socially distanced coffee with them and look back at No. 2.
As I was saying before, Jesus kept his scars, and I am so encouraged he did. When he kept the scars, he made sure we would not forget them, and they have forever changed how he interacts with us. Jesus has owned the scars and not let the scars own him.
Let me say that again: he found a way to OWN the scars and not let the scars OWN him. When you talk about the pain and learn to accept what has happened, the scars won’t become your identity. Jesus showed these scars to Thomas and gave him what he needed to believe. He offers his scars to us now, during political unrest, during racial tension, during pandemic and other personal pain and problems that wounded us. He is saying, “Look, I too have scars. I can hold you with these scarred hands, so come to me.”
Jesus’ scars have never been more comforting than they are right now. My hope is that Jesus’ nail-scarred hands will carry you through your tough times as well. Peace be unto you.
About the Author
Rev. Darrell Delaney lives in Allegan, Mich., and is the director of spiritual formation at Campus Ministry at Grand Valley State University. He and his wife of 18 years have three children.