This week I am grieving the loss of colleagues. Some have been wounded before. This time they paid the ultimate price as they shared in Christ’s sufferings.
Many of my friends have suffered. One lives with constant noise from eardrums damaged in a blast. Another has worked through extreme emotional trauma. Still another finds the mind struggling to meet weekly expectations as it labors and slows under the too long, too heavy years. Even Spirit-filled people have bodies of dust. Minds, too, can only labor so long under extreme burdens without being affected.
I think of each of these colleagues. And I wonder how many bear not only the physical wounds but the heavier weight of shame and frustration.
I have felt it. The shame of weakness and inability to help with daily tasks. The frustration of needing to schedule daily naps and exercise rather than being able to spontaneously respond to the needs of others. Self-accusations of wimpiness, selfishness, laziness. “Maybe if I just tried harder. . .”
Into these places of shame Grace speaks. His wounds touch ours, connecting our pain, our weakness, the rejection and hurt and dis-ease that we have experienced with his. His hands honor us, lifting us up, reminding us that it is His marks that we bear in our bodies.
Today He reminds me through Paul. This man who was beaten and imprisoned, rejected and starved of food and sleep was not ashamed of his wounds. He wore his scars boldly as honorable battle wounds.
“Finally, let no one cause me trouble, for I bear on my body the marks of Jesus.” (Galatians 6:17)
And so a word to my hurting colleagues: The weakness that haunts you, the wounds you continue to bear as a result of your service are not signs of failure. They are not shameful. They are honorable wounds, marks of courage and endurance and union with Christ in His death. By His grace, you have willingly followed Him to places where you have been injured.
Today may Grace speak freshly into the places of pain, enabling you to wear your scars confidently as marks of a fight well fought, a cross carried, a privileged participation in Christ’s sufferings for the sake of his body.