“Unless I see the scars. . . ”

“So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!” Thomas said to them, ‘Unless I see the scars of the nails in his hands and put my finger on those scars and my hand in his side, I will not believe.’”  (John 20:25)

A couple in our church invited me to see their apple tree.  It’s just an old, spindly tree in their backyard that seems rather plain upon approach – until you walk around to the other side.  On one side it’s clear that the bottom of the tree is completely hollow, with rusty strands of barbwire deeply embedded in the tree.  Grass is growing inside the hollowed-out center.

Turning to yet another side, the top of the main trunk reveals a huge hole where a limb has been torn loose.

Peering deep inside this upper scar, it’s easy to see the grass growing at the very base – inside the tree.

On closer inspection, the old, seemingly common apple tree turns out to be something pretty special.  It’s really a completely hollow trunk supporting one large, branching limb.  It’s only the thin layer of xylem and phloem cells around the hollow trunk carrying nutrients up and down the tree that keep it alive and faithful in the annual production of fruit.  It started me wondering . . .

Sometimes scars are important.  Sometimes we are known by our scars.  Scars are evidence of some sort of painful encounter.  The fact this little apple tree can faithfully produce fruit after a lighting strike or whatever tragedy scarred it so deeply is evidence that tragedy doesn’t always end in total destruction and life can be renewed, even if scarred.  I realize that the presence of some scars can mean that an individual has been “scarred for life” in such a way that their lives have been permanently damaged or altered in a very negative way.  Yet not all scars are like that or the same.  Even in cases where we might say someone is “scarred for life,” it’s important that the person be helped to move from the scars screaming the message of destruction to a place where the scars might offer possibilities for hope.  Some scars are reminders or even life changers in more positive ways.  Scars can be evidence of redemption and renewal.  I think when the Apostle Thomas asked to see Jesus’ scars, he asked not just for himself, but also for us.  We need to see that God’s love in Christ is real and present.  The scars remind us that the tragedy of Jesus’ death is not the end, but rather the sign of new beginnings.

Some scars can be life-changing by reminding us to be grateful for life lived today in spite of ___________________ .  Some scars give us a renewed and continuing sense of motivation and purpose.  Some scars remind us to be more careful.  (The scar on my finger taught me to be more careful with knives and teach safety to my children.) Some scars remind us of critical turning points in our lives or the lives of those we care about.  Some scars are evidence that God helped us make it through a difficult time and give us hope that we can also make it through the next challenge or difficulty.  Some scars (like the ones from my gall bladder surgery) can point us toward God’s miraculous healing.  Some scars can inform our calling, profession, or purpose.

Scars can be evidence of life lived in spite of.  I pray that God will help me consider my scars as evidence of God’s amazing love, help, and hope in spite of.  How about you?

Blessings and Peace,


Pastor, Cross Lanes United Methodist Church

Cross Lanes, West Virginia

Help save lives! For more information on my book, “A Relentless Hope: Surviving the Storm of Teen Depression,” visit new book, “Wednesday Wonderings: Spiritual Journaling Through a Lens” is available at and
Check out my video, “Teens Surviving the Storm”

~ by revgenelson on May 13, 2015.

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