I once met a woman who carried her scars like a crown a thorns. Twenty-five years before, she said, a gay man had tried to poison her with AIDS. I knew it wasn’t true, but she believed it was. And more important--her body believed it was.
She wandered through life like the Ancient Mariner, looking for still another soul to hear her story. Day after day, for twenty-five years, she had grown progressively more ill with everything except AIDS. She lived in chronic pain, had developed a cancer that became her identity, and she could not answer the question, “Do you want to be well?” Her pain had become her trademark. She wanted to tell everyone how she had suffered.
In contrast, I also met a man who carried scars from his past life as a sign of hope. He had conquered death and the grave, but still bore the marks of torture in his hands, his feet and his side. He bore no ill-will toward those who had killed him. In fact, before he died he prayed on their behalf. After rising from the dead he decided to keep the scars as a source of hope for others.
We are all scarred by life. The question is whether we will use our scars to redeem others.
The miracle of the resurrection is more than Jesus simply coming back to life. The power that raised him from the dead reshaped his body as well. He appeared to Mary in the garden and she thought he was the gardner. He walked Emmaus Road with two old friends who could not recognize their Rabbi. His resurrection body defied the confines of everyday life: fear-locked doors could not hold him at bay. He was, quite literally, a walking miracle.
Yet he chose to keep the scars of his crucifixion. Have you ever wondered why? When the good news was too good for his friends to believe, Jesus showed them the scars from his past. The hole in his side brought Thomas to his knees in worship. The nail prints in his feet and hands reassured the disciples.
Jesus demonstrated that the things which have hurt us the most can be a source of hope for others. His scars testified to the reality of his past--he did not ignore the past and he did not try to hide it. He used his scars to bring peace to others.
Through radical trust in the Father and forgiveness toward others Jesus transformed the wicked acts of evil men into life and hope. Although his death and resurrection are unique, he is still our example. What about us? Can our past set others free? Can the harm inflicted upon us bring peace and hope to our friends? Or will we--like the unforgiving woman I met years ago--use our scars to buy sympathy and attention for ourselves?