This weekend I attended an annual event hosted by Better Man Ministries here in Central Florida. During the middle of this event, a local Pastor of a very large congregation was recognized for his commitment to advancing the Kingdom of God in his community. He was given a moment to share a few words, and he vividly stated what so many men in that room knew from experience:
“The question is not IF you will be wounded in life, the question is WHEN you will be wounded.”
After he detailed the tragic passing of his grandchild, and the suicide of his son, he then said this:
“The LORD permits what He hates, to accomplish what He loves.”
What a powerful statement, by a wounded man who stood in front of thousands of wounded men.
The odds are good that you have been wounded. Some wounds deeper than others. I know I have. The thing about wounds is that they WILL happen and there is not much you can do about it. You may not be a follower of Christ, but the problem of pain and hurt in your life is no less a reality.
Some people believe and preach that as Christians, we are immune to wounds, but a quick glance at your past proves that to be false. A quick glance at Scripture proves that to be false. Scripture is littered with wounded men and women and we follow a Jesus that was the most wounded of them all.
But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.
Where do wounds come from? What is the source? How are we to deal with them?
Sources of Wounds:
Sin – As a follower of Jesus, I believe THE source of brokenness, loss, and pain in the world is sin. Now, this of course is the Sunday School answer so I will flesh it out a bit. Here are some examples:
Sin against You – Someone turns the sword on you, and wounds you. Abuse, neglect, rejection, denial, hate etc. The act of someone sinning against you that leaves a wound.
Sin against Yourself – You turning the sword on yourself. Destructive habits, addictions, poor choices and their consequences etc. Even if you deny the existence of sin, you cannot deny that some of your decisions have wounded you.
Loss – Broken relationships, death, crushed hopes and dreams etc. If you live long enough, you will lose someone close to you. If you engage in relationship, then there is a chance that it could end for no real reason. That happens sometimes and it still leaves a wound.
How are we to respond?
INVITE OTHERS IN –
Take a look at this story from the Gospel of John.
Jesus Appears to Thomas
Now Thomas (also known as Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!”
But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”
A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”
Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!”
Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
You see, this amazes me. Jesus invited Thomas to put his hand into His side. He invited Thomas into His wound. He showed Thomas it was real. He was pierced but He was now alive.
We have to follow this model that Jesus put forward. Invite others in to your wound. Allow them to see that it is real, but you are still alive and moving forward.
BE VULNERABLE AGAIN –
“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.” – C.S. Lewis
Pain teaches us a lesson: “Do not repeat that action, because it hurts.”
This is why we only touch the hot stove once when our Mom says not to.
It is also why we are less vulnerable after a failed relationship. A failed attempt to love someone. Or love rejected. Our hearts and minds tell us: “Do not repeat that action, because it hurts.”
Apply wisdom when being vulnerable, but absolutely commit to being vulnerable again.
ENGAGE IN LIFE –
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.” – Teddy Roosevelt
Once wounded, our tendency will be to withdraw. That is what pain does; whether it is physical, relational, or emotional. We must fight this tendency. Engage in life. Engage in the battle to advance the mission of Christ. Engage in the gritty, messy, and broken aspects of people’s lives. Jesus stepped down into the muck of our lives, pressed on through wounds, and continues to engage us to this day.
As one wounded person to another, I encourage you to continue walking.