Slowly I unfurled the ace bandage and the gauze wrap beneath to reveal a purple strip of stitches bisecting the palm of my hand. My heart throbbed in the fleshy pads to either side of the one-inch long incision laced together with black poly thread. Through the rouge of antiseptic wash and shimmering antibiotic ointment, I could still see my mark: “BB”. Both pain and pen proved that they operated on the correct hand I had autographed two days earlier. And hidden beneath the stitches was the signature of the physician who signed my palm as well. Glad we agreed and thankful for his expertise. I gave permission. The surgeon made the incision. And he assures me the scar and the healing will be worth it.
I'm trusting not from surgical experience, but from supernatural encounters where God cut into my life in order to make me better. At times it has come unexpectedly; not planned like this outpatient procedure. Often, His whittling has even gone undetected for months on end. Then one day the realization hits that God has been operating.
“I am the Lord your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go.” (Isaiah 48:17b-c)
The Lord may choose to cut deeply, severing circumstances or poisonous people from your life. He may remove one, then transplant something or someone more vital for your growth or survival. The Lord is the Great Physician, not just for wounds and worries. He knows how to make perfect! But sometimes the cuts hurt terribly before they ever prove worth it.
The difficult part is surrendering to the Healer's authoritative touch. It helps to know that He bears each blow unto Himself. “See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands...” promises the Lord. (Ish. 49:16) No matter how deep the cut, it's comforting to know God bears the brunt. For every sin He seeks to scrape from our lives; for each curse we bring upon ourselves, He suffered and died. He was cut and cursed, beaten and pierced that we might have life.
Yes, one small track across my palm reminded me of pain in my past. And it also reminded me of the scars on my Savior's hands.
As David described the crucifixion years in advance of this death penalty yet to be created, he prophesied as the Lord Himself: “Dogs have surrounded me; a band of evil men has encircled me, they have pierced my hands and my feet. I can count all my bones; people stare and gloat over me. They divide my garments among them and cast lots for my clothing.” (Psalm 22:16-18)
And this same David also knew the Savior of the future would be near him in his present moment. “But you, O Lord, be not far off; O my Strength, come quickly to help me.” (vs. 19) And then the psalmist would write of the timeless comfort of this Savior Surgeon who was also a Shepherd.
“The Lord is my shepherd, I shall lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow o death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me...” (Ps. 23:1-4)
God never cuts and then leaves. He cuts, cures, teaches, restores and heals as He lingers near. All of it is intended for our benefit, that we might lack nothing. If I study closely, I'll find underneath every scar in my life is the signature of an expert I have chosen to trust into eternity. Yes, I'd say every last one of them was worth it in order to know such love from One who desires nothing but what's best for me.
I am engraved in the palm of His hand and so are you. May every scar in your life remind you of such a healing and comforting truth.