“Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out.” Luke 8:2
On my left knee I have a two-inch scar courtesy of a circular saw back in 1981. When I first cut myself, it was not a scar at all, of course. It was a bleeding open wound that soaked my sock. At Barbourville General Hospital a nurse cleaned it out, stopped the bleeding, and a doctor stitched it closed. The scab formed and eventually fell off leaving a white scar on my sun-starved white leg.
You probably have scars too and stories to share of how you got them. Scars are physical markers of hurt, anxiety, and probably fear. The scars on your body are reminders of the pain you felt.
The scars on your soul hurt more.
Mary Magdalene had her share of those scars. Seven of them. They were called demons, and in that day any malady could be attributed to a demon. So in addition to some real demons, she probably also suffered from some physical ailments and possibly some mental illness. We don’t know much about her (the woman in Luke 7:37ff is never identified as Mary in the scripture), but we can well imagine that she had a very difficult life, suffered a lot of pain, and probably inflicted her share of it on other people.
When she met Jesus she was full of wounds, and the psychic ones were the worst. The pain of the mind and soul is deepest and is the source of the pain we bring to others. Many of Mary’s wounds were fresh, some had scabbed over, but none had truly healed. Then Jesus healed her, and she began to follow Him all the way to the cross and become the first preacher of the gospel of the resurrection. The scabs had turned into scars, but how beautiful those scars were!
Now take a look at your soul wounds. We all have them. Are they scabs? Or are they scars? What role do we have in moving from one to the other?
The key is to stop picking at the scab. Each wound is real, but rehearsing the cause, and especially remembering the person responsible for the wound, just prolongs the bleeding and the pain.
Your wound may be fresh, and it will take some time for the healing to begin, but I’ve noticed that most of us keep picking at old wounds so that the healing never progresses. We feel resentment at the person who hurt us or we feel guilt and shame for how we hurt others. We endless rehearse how we got the wound and ensure insure the scab never becomes a scar.
The past can only hurt you today to the extent you allow it. Mary carried the scars of her past for the rest of her life, but she was not bound by her wounds, self-inflicted or otherwise. God offers you grace to move on. It can be grace to forgive or grace to feel forgiven. Either way, grace is what you need to begin turning the scab into a scar.
You also need to understand clearly God’s role in your healing. God is simply not in the business of bringing pain into your life. Jesus never hurt anyone, never brought a disease on anyone, and certainly never killed anyone. He said, “if you have seen Me you have seen the Father” (John 14:9). Watching Jesus shows us what God is like. God is not interested in hurting you. He longs to heal you.
Our tendency when hurt is to ask why, and the chief “why” question is “Why did God do this?” Here’s the answer: He didn’t. We live in a broken world. It affects us all through disease, accidents, and death. Sometimes the pain comes through our own terrible choices. Either way we are better off to deal with life as life is. God doesn’t mind the questions, but think about it. If you knew the answer to any “why” question, would that really relieve the pain? Probably not.
The truth is God’s blessings often come to us in mysterious ways, and sometimes the blessing is cloaked initially in pain and trouble. Give God some time and trust. Mary came to Jesus. In the same way you can bring Him your wound. Stop arguing about it. Let Him start the healing. He can transform the scab into a glorious scar. Countless people now speak of the most difficult times in their lives as occasions when God demonstrated His power through their weakness. They’re just showing off their scars!
So look again at the pain you’re feeling today. You have a right to hurt, but you also have a need to heal. Are you picking at the wound? Or has the healing started? The Great Physician waits patiently.
Dr. Terry Ellis
April 6, 2014