The other morning, as I was finishing up my makeup and hair routine, my hand brushed across a scar between my upper eyelid and eyebrow. I see it every day, but this particular morning the light caught it just right and I paused for a moment to look at it. It is a small scar from when I was about 10 years old and had picked at a chicken pox. I remembered my little childhood home and how my mom furiously worked to help four children combat this childhood disease during that cold February.
I began to think about all the scars that we women carry around with us every day. Some are visible and are caused by physical injuries. Many are hidden in the recesses of our souls where only God sees.
Often we want to hide our scars because we feel that they reveal something about us that we don’t like. They make us feel self-conscious and different. They bring back difficult memories that we don’t want to relive, or cause us to feel trapped in the past.
I have some deep scars like this. I have five laparoscopic scars in my abdomen from two major surgeries over the past two years. The whole time I was clinging to life and God as doctors worked to figure out why I was so sick. They are reminders of the loneliness, despair, and frustration I went through during my physical pain.
My friend has a massive scar from the mastectomy that saved her life. Her scar led to feelings of depression, hopelessness, and a new identity.
It is not uncommon for women to have hidden scars. Women like me who work in ministry cannot always share our hurts with those we work with. Feelings of isolation can cause scars that wreak havoc on our souls. We long to find true friends and sisters who can understand our pain.
Scars remind us of trouble and hurt and we desire relief, healing, and mercy. God sees these scars and longs for us to spend time in His presence, allowing Him to bring healing to our pain. Lamentations 3:19-23 is a cry to our Lord. It says, “Remember my affliction and my wanderings, the wormwood and the gall! My soul continually remembers it and is bowed within me. But I call this to mind, and therefore, I have hope. The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning, great is your faithfulness.”
Scripture promises that God will bring healing to our scars. Psalm 147:3 says, “God heals the broken-hearted and binds up their wounds.” He lovingly wraps His strong arms around me and gently whispers, “These scars are part of your story, and I think they are beautiful.” He does this for all of His children. He wants us to be whole in spite of the pain we endure.
Christ Himself was not immune to scars. He was constantly ridiculed, rejected, and mocked. His final moments on earth brought horrible wounds to His body. But His scars bring us ultimate healing. I Peter 2:24 says, “He himself bore our sins in his body on a tree that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By His wounds you have been healed.” Not that we might be healed but that we have been.
Psalm 40:17 says the “As for me, I am poor and needy, but the Lord takes thought of me. You are my help and my deliverer, do not delay, O my God.” Sometimes this help that the Lord provides comes through another brother or sister that has endured a similar experience. That is part of the beauty of what God does through us. He uses our pain for His glory and to help others.
In a two year time span, my husband and I lost both of our dads to heart conditions—sudden, unexpected tragedies. Our hearts were raw with grief and shock. I remember asking a loving friend who had been through his own share of loss, “Does this pain ever go away?” He said, “The pain never completely leaves, but over time the agony begins to fade. It becomes less harsh, and you are able to deal with it easier.”
Pain and scarring will always be part of our story this side of heaven. God uses them to help us minister to others, and when we do, I think God smiles and says, “That is beautiful. That scar on her is beautiful.”
Laura Sumpter, married and mother of three, is an Academic Resource Specialist at a private Christian School in Salem, Ore. She has worked in education for 18 years, and has had the opportunity to work at camps and on her church’s women’s ministry team. Laura also teaches women’s Bible studies and speaks at women’s events.