The Ministry of Scars

Suffering leaves scars. Anyone who has spent a season in darkness knows this. Whether the scars are visible or carefully hidden, there is no one who passes through heartache without being forever changed. As you think about your life, you may be able to easily identify these scars. You recognize the ways that heartache has altered you. Perhaps you are now more prone to tears during certain times of the year or even certain times of the day. You may struggle with haunting memories or painful flashbacks.

For some, the scars might be an inability to concentrate, to sleep or even to laugh as they once did. Some live with never-ending numbness. They smile, they participate in life, but the fog won’t lift; and they wonder if it ever will. And there are those who have a lingering sense of dread – a forever “waiting-for-the-other-shoe-to-drop” sensation. They are ever looking around the corner awaiting the next phone call, the next lab result, the next symptom that will signal the beginning of yet another season of darkness.

Scars. Suffering leaves scars on our souls, and while we can understand where they came from we may find ourselves wondering why God doesn’t take them away. We are His children, and He is the Great Physician is He not? Why are so many of His children living with painful, ugly scars? Why does He allow heartache to leave such ghastly wounds on our souls?

Physical Scars

As I think through this, my mind turns to Jesus Christ and to His physical scars. You see, following His resurrection, the Bible records for us the fact that Jesus kept the scars made by the nails and spear during His crucifixion. Those of us familiar with the resurrection story easily glide over these facts. We take them for granted, but truly this should puzzle us. Jesus had a newly resurrected body. It could do things that our bodies certainly can not do (like travel through closed doors!). Why would God allow the scars to remain? Why wouldn’t Christ’s new body be made without scars? I am sure there are many theologians who have worked through this mystery and could offer us several reasons; but the truth is, we don’t know for certain.

The Bible never clarifies why Jesus was brought back to life but retained the scars of His suffering. What we do know for certain is that Jesus used His scars. He leveraged the marks of His suffering for the good of those around Him. In Luke’s Gospel we read about Jesus using His scars to prove that He was Himself – He was real. “Why are you troubled?” He asks his disciples, “And why do doubts arise in your hearts? Behold My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself” (Luke 24:38-39a). He allows His scars to evidence His true nature – He was real, He was physically human like them. He used His scars to give the message: “Look! I am literally the same person you saw just a few days ago. I suffered, and I live!” His scars proved His identity and the power of the all-powerful God.

Scars That Tell the Story

Jesus further used His scars to strengthen a weaker follower. When His disciple Thomas pushed back with doubt, Jesus drew near to him highlighting His scars to strengthen Thomas’s faith. “Reach your finger here, and look at My hands; and reach your hand here, and put it into My side. Do not be unbelieving, but believing” (John 20:27). Jesus allowed His scars to be the stepstones to a man’s faith.

You see Jesus is the God-Man Who is marked by scars. Undaunted by the marks, He sets for us an example of how we ought to live with the marks of our suffering. Like Him, we can choose to be vulnerable – to refuse to hide or cover up our scars but to utilize them for the good of those around us. Like Christ, we can use our scars to remind those around us that we are like them. We are human. We have been broken. We have endured much; but like Christ, we live. We can let them know that our hearts are racing, our minds are not what they once were, and yet we continue on. We serve, and love, and follow on as we are able. We can be the living contradiction of weakness that is forever triumphing by the resurrection power of Christ.

Our Own Scars

Like Christ, we can also use our scars to eradicate doubt in those who are weaker. We can let them come near, see our struggles, see our challenges; and assure them that in spite of the pain, the numbness, the memories we have been sustained, we have been upheld and so too will they. We can allow others to draw strength through the testimony of our scars.

No, we will never be the same. Our souls will forever retain the marks of the battles we have endured. But it seems that is just the way our God desires it. He is glorified by children who march on with scars. He heals, He upholds, but He doesn’t erase. He allows the scars to minister to those who are being scarred. Use your scars to strengthen the faith of those around you; use them to demonstrate the power of your God. Embrace the ministry created by your scars.


If you are seeking support through prayer, please visit our Prayers for You page. We invite you to allow us to pray for you… for your heartache, for your family, for your future or whatever is pressing down on your soul today.