Your scars tell a story — God’s story.
by JEFFERSON BETHKE
“Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe” (John 20:25, ESV).
I HAVE A LITTLE TINY SCAR on my upper lip because I thought it’d be a great idea to eat a dog’s food when I was a year old. The dog didn’t think it was so genius, and he bit me in the face.
I also have a six-inch scar on my right shoulder, with two titanium plates and ten screws inside, from when I shattered my collarbone diving for a baseball.
I have a one-inch clean scar on my right knuckle. I found my mom’s pocketknife as a kid, took it into a hiding place, and began playing with it. Of course, I wasn’t too sure what it did, so I tested it on my pointer finger. It sliced me right open.
See, wounds hurt. Wounds can get infected. Wounds are painful. Wounds we cover up. But scars? They are different. They don’t hurt anymore. They can’t get infected. They tell a story.
This is illustrated perfectly after Jesus rises from the dead and interacts with Thomas, also known as the doubting disciple. His friends were telling Thomas that Jesus had risen, but Thomas didn’t believe them. “Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe” (John 20:25, ESV).
Eight days later, Thomas finally sees Jesus, but He doesn’t rebuke Thomas and tell him to believe harder. He doesn’t tell him to read more apologetics books. He doesn’t say, “Just have faith.” He says, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe” (John 20:27, ESV).
The answer to Thomas’s doubt was Jesus’ telling Thomas to reach out and touch Him. To feel His scars. It’s almost as if Jesus’ scars were what proved His humanity — made Him real in that moment. If you had to take a hard look at the things in your life, would you classify the broken pieces of it as wounds or scars?
God created us with so much glory. With so much weight, and beauty, and love. And thinking we could do it on our own or that we know better, we fall more and more into brokenness. And now because of the curse, sometimes it isn’t even from our own decisions. It’s just from the general curse falling on us all that life starts to unravel.
We lose a job. We lose a marriage. We lose a family member.
Brokenness is all around us.
And the question is what do we do? How do we live? Is there hope?
The beautiful thing about Jesus is He heals us. There’s even one instance where a woman touches His clothes and gets healed. He has a power about Him that this world has never seen. God Himself, walking among us, can heal us.
And notice what happens when people touch Him. They get healed. Not the other way around. He doesn’t get dirty. He doesn’t become unrighteous. No. The power flows out from Him into them. They get healed. They get cleansed. They get new life.
Do you really believe that? That our brokenness is real? But that’s exactly what Jesus came for. To heal us. Have you reached out and touched Him? And when you have, you are healed. And when your wound gets healed, it becomes a scar. And your scar tells a story.
I don’t know if it’s a guy thing or what, but we like to tell people about our physical scars.
What if that was what we were like with our brokenness? What if we actually told people about our scars and what an amazing healer Jesus is? We don’t need to hide or be ashamed because He has healed us.
But see, we can only do that when we’ve been healed. If it’s still a wound, we’ll cringe when people touch it. We’ll hide it. We’ll cover it up.
But Jesus has more for us.
In Japanese culture, there is a type of pottery art called kintsugi that deals with broken items such as clay pots, vases, and bowls. When a bowl or pot breaks, kintsugi artists put it back together using a lacquer mixed with gold, silver, or platinum.
When the pot is put back together, the gold, silver, or platinum veins running through the pot exactly where it had previously been broken are the most eye-catching. The new glory of the beautiful creation is the golden-laced, broken pieces that have been repaired. It’s remarkably beautiful!
With kintsugi, when something becomes broken, it doesn’t become less valuable. The new golden-laced repair makes it more valuable. It doesn’t try to hide or disguise the imperfections, but instead puts them on full display in all their beauty and glory.
I don’t think we are much different when we come to Jesus. Some of the most inspiring people we know are those who have been hurt and broken and yet still have a peace, joy, and resilience about them. Scars don’t hide our history; they show it. And when we show our scars, we get to point to the Healer who wove His grace right into the depths of every crack and fragmented part in our soul.
So rest in that today. Whether it’s a failed marriage, a house you’re about to lose, or a dream that died, know there is resurrection. There is new life. And in Scripture, where do we see resurrection show up?
Right after death. Right after the worst thing happened. Right after the darkness. And in that moment, we can turn our eyes to the One who defeated death and walked out of the grave, giving us that same power.
Portions excerpted, with permission, from Jefferson Bethke’s It’s Not What You Think (Nelson Books, 2015)
JEFFERSON BETHKE is the author of It’s Not What You Think and the New York Times best-seller Jesus > Religion. Bethke’s message connects at a heart level with an audience ranging from atheists to nationally recognized religious leaders. He lives in Maui, Hawaii.
This article originally appeared in Mature Living magazine (October 2016). For more articles like this, subscribe to Mature Living.