Every Scar Tells A Story
8 We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about the hardships we suffered in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life.
9 Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead.
10 He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us,
11 as you help us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many.
(2 Corinthians 1:8-11)
Pain is a part of life. In fact, it is one of the very first parts of life. In childbirth, there is pain and it is a difficult experience. Unfortunately, that is not where the pain ends in our lives. We deal with pain every day in some form or another. Some of the pain is the result of our own poor choices. However, pain in our lives is sometimes the result of others poor choices.
It is in the journey through the pain that we begin to define ourselves.
“Experience is not what happens to you. It is what you do with what happens to you”
It is through pain that we have incredible stories and we have amazing images of the context and content of our lives. We need to understand that God does not hold our past against us, but the pain we endured during that time has incredible ability to mold us and define us.
Like me, many of you have some outward signs of pain. You have scars and wounds that tell a story.
You have events or people that you remember every time you see those scars. For many of us, the scars that cause the most pain are unseen. They are the results of poor choices and desperate actions that have led us away from what we dreamed or intended for our lives --- Every scar tells a story.
There are three basic principles we need to learn from this passage.
1) Life can become overwhelming.
Is there anyone here who has never at some point been completely overwhelmed with life? We can all relate to that. We all connect with the concept that life is tough sometimes and we are not sure we are going to survive.
Notice in the text that Paul not only feels like he is going to die, he expects to die.
Life turns out to not be a grand adventure for the of changing the world, but it is at times a great struggle simply to survive.
What were some of the things that Paul dealt with?
“Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they descendants of Abraham? So am I. Are they servants of Christ? I know I sound like a madman, but I have served him far more! I have worked harder, been put in prison more often, been whipped times without number, and faced death again and again. Five different times the Jewish leaders gave me thirty-nine lashes. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked. Once I spent a whole night and a day adrift at sea. I have traveled on many long journeys. I have faced danger from rivers and from robbers. I have faced danger from my own people, the Jews, as well as from the Gentiles. I have faced danger in the cities, in the deserts, and on the seas. And I have faced danger from men who claim to be believers but are not. I have worked hard and long, enduring many sleepless nights. I have been hungry and thirsty and have often gone without food. I have shivered in the cold, without enough clothing to keep me warm.” (2 Corinthians 11:22-28)
Paul dealt with all these issues in life. He was constantly being arrested, beaten, thrown out of town, and shipwrecked.
Paul seems to have gone through periods in his life of major depression and anxiety. On several occasions in Scripture Paul uses the term or idea that he feels overwhelmed. Paul may have suffered from some type of emotional distress that plagued him throughout his life.
We all look to escape the pain in our lives. Paul was no different. We do not know exactly what his affliction was, but we know that god never took it away from him.
“To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." (2 Corinthians 12:6-9)
Paul wanted desperately to be finished with the torment he was going through. But he learned that God’s grace was powerful enough to sustain him.
We all face incredible hurts and pains in life and they are never easy to deal with.
For many of you, there are pains of childhood tragedy, of poor choices that have plagued you forever and you would love simply to forget they ever occurred.
You may never be able to forget the pain that comes into your life. It will always be a part of you because it shaped who you are.
God never wastes a hurt.
What you need to understand is that although you may wish it had never happened and you may wish circumstances of your life were different, God has allowed you to go through them so that He may show up in your life. So many people go through life angry at God and hurt that He allowed them to experience pain. But His desire is that we take the pain in our lives and we learn to grow from it.
2) God is faithful.
This may be one of the hardest things for people going through pain or living with pain to understand. But God is faithful to be a source of power and strength in our weakness.
Paul lets us know that even when he thought he was going to die, he relied on the power of God to sustain him.
The very pain in your life is what you think may kill you. And in reality, maybe it will. There are things in our lives that will kill us. But God is able to deliver us from the death. The worst thing that can happen to us is the pain and suffering that goes on through the process of our life; but when we die, if we have a relationship with Jesus, that all comes to an end. Jesus Christ died so that we would not have to pay the penalty of death.
The God who was faithful to deliver us in the past, can be trusted in our future.
Paul says that what he learned through the process of all the pain he endured was that God is able to be trusted to deliver us from the pain in our lives today.
The way to understand Gods faithfulness is to see as God sees.
One of the problems we have in our lives is that we have such a limited scope of what is taking place. We see only our perspective and not God's perspective.
Maybe God’s design for your life is not to take away your pain but to use what you have learned to minister into the lives of others.
3) God desires your scars to tell a story to others.
“And you are helping us by praying for us. Then many people will give thanks because God has graciously answered so many prayers for our safety.” (2 Corinthians 1:11)
We often think that the way that God can really be honored and glorified is if we are healed or if we simply learn to bury our scars and never allow anyone to see our weakness. Paul tells the Corinthians that not only do their prayers encourage him, but they allow others to hear his story.
God is not only a God of healing; he is a God of supporting.
He is honored when our lives are lived out in daily recognition that He is the only one that enables us to get through our day. When our lives are devoted to a need to rely on Him, we realize that what is out of our control is under His.
He uses our scars to tell a story of his love and faithfulness to others.
Scars are not finish lines of death; they are checkpoints of life.
One of the problems we have in life, is that we are afraid to talk about our scars. We feel like we are past the point of help, we feel like failures and we feel like we have let the Lord down because our lives are marked with scars.
Scars are not a sign of weakness; they are signs of survival.
So, what about you? You have scars in your life. You have pains and hurts and feelings that you don’t understand or like.
What are you going to do about them? How are you going to allow them to shape you?
There are three things your scars can do:
1) Your scars can paralyze you.
2) Your scars can make you bitter.
3) Your scars can strengthen you.
Scars strengthen you when you embrace them.
“That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 6:10)
Are you willing to let God take your scars and use them to bring honor and glory to himself? Are you willing to allow him control of the areas of your life that are out of control?
Maybe today you need someone to pray for you. Maybe you simply need someone to listen to you and help you to embrace your scars.
Let it be a reminder to you that God is faithful, God never wastes a hurt, and every scar tells a story.
Reflections Ministries / Calvin Wyatt / e-mail:email@example.com
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