And provide for those who grieve in Zion—to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor. Isaiah 61:3 NIV
I rub my thumb over the inside of my ring finger and feel the jagged ridge of a scar. Memories flood my mind: a growling dog and sharp teeth.
I see it as I step into the shower: a white line near my navel. It reminds me of tubal pregnancies, babies and fertility lost. As my gaze sweeps lower I see another scar and smile. I birthed two babies through that one.
Scars are ugly reminders of the past. They mar our faces, fingers, heads, chins, noses, legs, abdomens. I have a lot of scars: from childhood antics to horrible accidents, from C-sections to chicken pox scars. They are unwelcome narrators that tell a part of our history and we do everything we can to get rid of them.
But God, He often turns things upside-down and inside-out. So did Jesus when He rose from the dead. He bore scars. The marks – that according to this world proved His failure – three days later were marks of victory.
Maybe that is what God wants us to think when we see our physical and emotional scars. He wants us to remember the pain, but realize they are marks of victory. Marks that God will redeem and transform us into someone we cannot fathom this side of heaven. Narratives that tell of battles fought and seemingly lost, but in the end God wins all the battles. Stories that tell of God’s nearness in the darkness and His peace that passes understanding during the difficult lonely nights. Beauty for ashes.
When we see scars in this way, the ugly becomes beautiful and what smacked of defeat sings of victory. We become a display of God’s splendor.
The next time you see a physical scar or an emotional scar ask God to help you remember the painful wound, but also the beauty of God’s workmanship in your life. Remember the scars are not signs of defeat, but of God’s victory.
Father God, when the painful scars of my past come to mind help me not only to remember the past, but to remember You. Help me to see those scars as beautiful reminders of Your nearness, Your comfort, Your peace. May my scars be reminders of Your ultimate victory, help me to trust Your ways. And give me opportunities to bring You glory because of these scars. In Jesus’ Name I pray. Amen.