Just over five years ago, I had emergency surgery for twisted intestines, a condition that caused an abdominal infection that killed my daughter Naomi when I was eighteen weeks pregnant with her. I had a vertical incision plus staples to hold everything together while I healed. For the longest time it was an angry red, an ugly scar that I thought would never go away, punctuated by red marks where the staples had been. Today, the skin is smoother, the staple marks less prominent. But the scars are still there, a visible reminder (as if I needed one) of my daughter's life and death and the moment that changed my world forever.
The scars in my heart are fading, too. The weeks and months following Naomi's death were the darkest emotionally and spiritually that I have ever known. For the longest time I fought anger and jealousy and aloneness as I cried out to God for answers...answers that I finally realized I would not get this side of Heaven. But over time, through the ministry of other Loss parents and the tenderness of my husband and the truth of God's Word, those scars began to heal, too. Today, my emotions are more even, my anger less easily kindled, the grief less intense, and the weeping less frequent. But - the scars are still there. Invisible, they show themselves in moments that catch me off guard, when the calendar turns to a special date, or a friend's four-year-old child flashes me an impish grin. An ever present reminder (as if I needed one) of the day my world was turned upside down.
After Jesus rose from the grave, one of his disciples, Thomas, had trouble believing He was alive. He would not be convinced until he touched the scars in Jesus' hands...scars that John's Revelation says will still be there when Jesus returns and into eternity. All of my scars, physical and emotional, will be healed completely on that day, all my tears wiped away. His will remain forever. An ever-present reminder of the day the world was turned upside down, and a reminder that every scar and hurt and tear I have ever experienced was also known to the Son of God, who is not "unable to sympathize with our weaknesses" (Hebrews 4:14), the One known in Scripture as the Man of Sorrows.
Someday I will meet Jesus face to face. Perhaps I will touch His scars, like Thomas, and utter the same words he did - "My Lord and my God!" Perhaps He will touch my face, and trace the path the tears took once upon a time, and whisper, "My precious child." Both of us scarred. Both because of the brokenness of the world. Me a victim of that brokenness. Him the victor over it.
For now, my scars are fading, but still there, a reminder of the fragility of life in this world and the triumph of Jesus on the cross. May we live each day with an intense awareness of both.