Sarah was new to church. She listened wide-eyed each Sunday, soaking up wisdom, wondering why no one had ever told her these truths before. It might have saved her from her life of abuse, from her unplanned pregnancies, and from the many men she had been involved with. No one told her that life could have purpose, healing, and best of all—unconditional love.

Sarah was so grateful for the radical transformation in her life that she volunteered in all the church ministries she could handle. She was so in love with Jesus. You could see the light in her eyes and the passion to serve Him. But she mainly stayed in background roles—kitchen service or set up and tear down.

There’s certainly nothing wrong with kitchen work. The church could hardly exist without those who give their time working in the background. But Sarah had such a marvelous testimony that she should have been out among the hurting, telling them what God had done for her.

After hearing part of her testimony and her marvel at the grace of God, I told her I thought God was going to have a great ministry through her story. I could imagine her speaking and counseling women who have experienced similar circumstances.

“Me?” she said with disbelief. “I can’t do that. I’ve done so many bad things. I’m not like those other women. How could I help anyone?”

I’ve heard this rationale from Christians many times. It’s one of Satan’s favorite deceptions. He makes us believe that the scars of our past are ugly and deforming. So we try our best to disguise what we regard as shameful and try to look like all the “normal” people. But no one is normal. Each person has his or her own struggle, and many are battling the same demons we are. In God’s plan, the scars we see as lesions to hide are actually undeniable evidence of the depths of our depravity and the sign to a broken world that we’ve been healed—a life resurrected.

Christ’s scars

I’ve often wondered what our resurrected bodies will be like. Will we be young? Thin? Will people recognize us?

There are a lot of unanswered questions that won’t be resolved until we rise from the grave. But we can study what the Scripture says about Jesus’ resurrected body.

Jesus ate and drank. He could appear and disappear. Sometimes He was in disguise and people didn’t recognize Him. But what boggled me was when it dawned on me that Jesus’ resurrected body was healed, but He still had scars.

Why did Jesus have scars? The Spirit could have taken them away. He could have decided to cover over the wounds with new flesh and made Jesus’ body exactly as it was before, even better.

Read this exchange between Jesus and His disciple Thomas in John 20:24-27 when Jesus appeared in His resurrected body:

Now Thomas, one of the twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus [first] came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to 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.”

Eight days later, his disciples were inside again, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe … “

What Jesus did on the cross would still be valid whether He had scars or not. But could it be that the scars were left to testify to the work of Christ?

I don’t know about you, but I want to touch those precious holes where the nails pierced His skin. I want to kiss his feet and weep with tears of gratefulness over the wounds He suffered for me. Could it be that those scars are there for all the Thomases who need to see to believe?

We have scars

Jesus said anyone who follows Him must follow Him in death. We must pick up our own cross and sacrifice our own spiritual lives. We don’t have physical holes in our hands and feet, but sin and rebellion against God leave painful gashes in our hearts and souls. Some people are more mangled than others by a vicious past. But through Christ, the most severe injuries are mended, and with that renewal comes a story—a testimony of what God has done.

Think of the value that eyewitnesses hold in a court room.  They have the influence to determine a person’s judicial fate. In the same way, the personal first-hand account of how Christ healed your life is a word of great persuasion.

Never underestimate the power of your testimony. It was the evidence that Thomas believed. Even though Jesus was standing before him, even though the others told him about seeing Jesus, it was the scars that convinced Thomas that the man who stood before him truly was Jesus and not an imposter.

Revelation 12:11 says, “And [the believers] have conquered [Satan] by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony …” (emphasis added). Satan knows that the stories behind our scars will destroy him. That’s why he deceives and shames us into hiding them.

Jesus displayed his scars with confidence, not disgrace. “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side.” He knew what those scars represented—healing, salvation, peace between God and man, His glory.

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We’re all still struggling

“But I’m not fixed yet,” you might say. “My scars are still healing. I struggle every day.” That’s true. You aren’t perfect yet. None of us are. You still have a lot of spiritual growing to do. You might even have more scars yet to receive. That’s part of our task on this earth, so we can reach more people for Christ. Hebrews 12:11 says, “For the moment all discipline [from God] seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.”

In the meantime, use what God has brought you through to encourage others. Second Corinthians 1:4 reminds us that God “comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” God doesn’t need you to be perfect. He just needs you to be willing to tell your spiritual story to anyone who is willing to listen.

An Easter challenge

As Easter approaches, I would like to challenge you to think about your own scars, think of the ways you can use your testimony to share your own journey from death into life. There are others who are going through similar circumstances. They need your encouragement and words of hope. But that means you must be willing to speak about the circumstances you’ve tried to hide in the past.

Have you been through a difficult marriage and come out stronger on the other side? Then lead a Sunday school class for young married couples. Did you have an abortion in the past and find forgiveness through Christ? Don’t be afraid to give a testimonial during a women’s ministry event. There are more women in the church who have had abortions than you know. Have you been involved in an affair and repented and found forgiveness? Write an article and send it to a Christian magazine or website.

If Jesus can take a cross—a symbol of the cursed and the damned—and turn it into a symbol of eternal life, then He can do the same for you. After you’ve experienced grief, shame, sorrow, or traveled through the valley of the shadow of death, find those who are on the journey behind you and show them how God got you through. Show them your scars.

Copyright © 2017 by Sabrina Beasley McDonald. All rights reserved.