Time heals all wounds. But does it really? As time edges on will it completely erase our pain? Will we truly forget the trauma? I would propose that it really depends on how we use that time. If we are using time to our advantage, we’ll be seeking help, counsel, encouragement, care, and gracious accountability. If we are real with ourselves and admit we need time to heal, we’ll have to work at it. We’ll need to be vulnerable, process biblically, and seek out the grace of God; the One who heals the brokenhearted and is near the crushed in spirit (Psalm 34:18). Doing these things won’t hide our wounds, but we will no longer find our identity in them, and our wounds will also no longer have the power to dominate our lives and thoughts. Time will not heal our wounds if we waste our time through denial or stay stuck in deep bitterness. This is actually enslaving and the complete opposite of healing for ourselves. Time can be a healing agent for us if we steward and manage our time well as we seek to heal. (What I’m specifically referring to here with the word “wounds” are the ways we have been hurt, subjected to trauma from others, and our experiences of suffering.)
Ultimately Our Comfort Comes From a Wounded Savior
Time can be a real source of comfort for us because it helps create some distance from the deep hurt and traumatic experiences we may have experienced in our lives. Every day we travel further and further away from that terrible moment or season. This can be a gift from God to us; a naturally designed way for us to at least physically move on. But ultimately our comfort comes from a wounded Savior. His wounds have also lingered with the passage of time. They are not hidden either, for He wears them on His hands for all eternity. He holds them out to us for comfort. Since He was wounded for our transgressions and crushed for our iniquities (Isaiah 53:5), He alone is qualified to be our comforter and the forerunner of healing for His people. Though He is victorious, He still carries His wounds.
The Wounds of Christ Define Christ and His People
His wounds in His death on the Cross define Him. In this way, they should define and help shape His people’s lives insofar as they represent God’s work in conforming them into the image of Christ. By His wounds, we are healed (Isaiah 53:5). These truths aren’t in any way meant to invalidate our pain and suffering. As writer Paul Maxwell says, “Some Christians have been trained to think that proper believers will not continue to experience traumatic symptoms for the rest of their lives because of Christ’s liberating work.”[i]
The Wounds of Christ Are Freeing
Our wounds are real. His wounds also must cover our wounds in healing grace so that we can be free from the bondage of bitterness and darkness. As Maxwell goes on to say:
“On the other hand, hope and freedom are withheld by other well-meaning Christian counselors who insist on our “need to process” — the need to focus exclusively on our trauma, the need to speak at length about the pain, the need to obsess over it, the need to become preoccupied with our wounds — the notion that only in giving ourselves over to our trauma can we be free from it. One is cruel optimism; the other is an incurable diagnosis. Both are forms of false witness.”[ii]
The wounds of Christ offer comfort and healing to us, and the death and redemption they represent free us from both forms of false witness. Finding comfort in the wounds of Christ will also help us be empathetic with others who need healing. As we share in Christ’s suffering (1 Peter 4:13) and death (Philippians 3:10) we are also sharing in it with countless others (Hebrews 12:1) who have gone before us and who walk with us now. Our wounds are like a rite of passage in the Christian life since they are part of following in Jesus’ footsteps. Amy Carmichael, a missionary to India in the twentieth century, wrote this poem:
Hast thou no scar?
No hidden scar on foot, or side, or hand?
I hear thee sung as mighty in the land,
I hear them hail thy bright ascendant star,
Hast thou no scar?
Hast thou no wound?
Yet, I was wounded by the archers, spent.
Leaned me against the tree to die, and rent
By ravening beasts that compassed me, I swooned:
Hast thou no wound?
No wound? No scar?
Yet as the Master shall the servant be,
And pierced are the feet that follow Me;
But thine are whole. Can he have followed far
Who has no wound nor scar?
Our sympathetic High Priest (Hebrews 4:14-16) who experienced pain and trauma for His people wants them to spread His comfort to those who are wounded. He comforts us so that we can comfort others. We are His scarred people bearing His mark of suffering. As we look to Him, we know He is with us and has gone before us, and will ever see us to the end.
[i] Paul Maxwell, Trauma Is A Life Sentence, January 5th, 2017, accessed April 5th, 2017. http://www.desiringgod.org/articles/trauma-is-not-a-life-sentence