I Am They released a song a little while back called, “Scars.” The chorus says: “So I’m thankful for the scars / ‘Cause without them I wouldn’t know Your heart / And I know they’ll always tell of who You are / So forever I am thankful for the scars.”
I have mixed feelings when I hear that song. Sometimes, I feel moved – “Yes, Lord, I am thankful. You are doing something new and something good. Thank you.” Other days, I feel resistant (okay, hostile may be a better word) – “Lord, I am NOT thankful for these scars. I don’t WANT to be scarred. Being scarred is the worst.”
Truthfully, I don’t really have any dramatic external scars. On the side of my left hand and the bottom of my right knee, I have scars from a small motorcycle accident I had several years back. I was riding behind my ex, and the bike slipped on some gravel as he took a right turn. Not a scratch on him, but I had a little road rash. Over the years, they have faded, but you can still make out the slight discoloration. On the side of my right wrist, slightly under my watch band, there’s a newer scar. It is just a small line, barely noticeable. Soon it will fade completely. That scar came from rearranging my garage to reclaim the space as my own. As I was sorting through the items left, a coil of chicken wire snagged my arm and cut my wrist. My other scars are less noticeable and less memorable.
Those aren’t the scars that I struggle with. What really bothers me are the internal scars. We all have them, caused by different experiences. Some scars we cause ourselves, whether through pride, stubbornness, or naivete. Some scars come from the actions of others. Regardless of the cause, these internal scars are the ones that make me self-conscious. They remind of disappointments and failures. They expose my flaws. They expose ME.
As we walk through Holy Week, I find myself focusing more and more on the last part of the song, though: “I’m thankful for Your scars / ‘Cause without them I wouldn’t know Your heart / And with my life, I’ll tell of who You are.”
Jesus’s scars never look all that dramatic in our depictions of Him. We’ve developed some really grizzly and dramatic visuals for His suffering leading up to the cross, but our pictures of the post-Resurrection Christ tend to have very aesthetically pleasing and symmetrically drawn marks on Jesus’s hands and feet. Maybe it doesn’t really matter, but it strikes me that His scars wouldn’t look that way. Scars don’t heal evenly, smoothly, or quickly. And shouldn’t He have more scars than just His hands and feet? What about His face, head, sides, and back?
In Hebrews 4, the author writes about Christ’s role as High Priest. We are able to approach the throne of grace with confidence because we have a high priest who “sympathize(s) with our weaknesses…has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.” When I read this verse, my flesh often says, “Duh, He’s God. Of course He didn’t sin.” (Which is why He gets pretty, aesthetically pleasing scars). Yes, He is God, but came to earth clothed in humanity. Living a sinless life still cost Him greatly. He FELT all that suffering. His suffering took time. His suffering brought agony, physically and emotionally. His suffering was public, and it was humiliating. That is why those other scars are so important, too. The scars on His hands and feet remind us of God’s sacrificial love for us. All those other scars, the ones we never show, remind me that in His humanity He felt everything I have ever felt, but one-hundred times worse. And I caused those scars. Yet, He still chose me. He still loves me.
This Easter, I am thankful for His scars.
Wait, let me try that again.