Scarred for Life

Steven James

For as long as I could remember I’d been asking God, “Why?” The day I met Brad, I finally heard an answer: Sometimes God uses our wounds to heal another person’s pain.

Every time I wore a T-shirt, people would stare. Every time I showered in gym class or changed clothes after track practice, I could feel their eyes tracing the ragged scars around my neck, across my chest, and down my left arm. When I looked up, they turned away and pretended they hadn’t been staring.

But they were.

guy in hoodie2 iStock_000086456087_LargeSometimes they would ask the questions, “Hey, how did you get all those scars?” But mostly they just stared.

I couldn’t help asking, Why did God let this happen to me? What possible reason could God have for letting a baby be fried by hot grease?

When I was nineteen years old, I met Brad.

“Hey, how’d you get those scars?

I sighed and turned around. I was tired of answering the same old question and was ready with a smart-aleck response.

Then I saw him.

He was about eight years old. His hair was long and combed to the left, across his head. He wore long sleeves and sweat pants even though it was 90 degrees outside. I could tell that he was hiding something.

So I told him the truth. “When I was eleven months old, my mom was cooking French fries in a deep-fat fryer. I pulled the cord, and the whole thing slid off the counter. A gallon of boiling grease poured onto my head. I almost died.”

“You aren’t gonna believe this!” the boy exclaimed. “When I was eight months old, my sister was cooking French fries. I pulled the cord, and the hot grease poured all over me.”

He tipped his head, revealing a scar that covered half of his scalp. “And I have one on my arm and one on my leg.”

No way! He was just like me, scarred by a cord-pulling, grease-splattering accident.

We talked for a while. I told him how I felt when people stared. I also said, “You don’t need to be embarrassed or ashamed: the scars are just part of who you are.” And when he walked away, he was smiling.

Later I saw him wearing short sleeves.

No one else he had met could understand how he felt. But I could help because I had the same scars.

For as long as I could remember I’d been asking God, “Why?” The day I met Brad, I finally heard an answer: Sometimes God uses our wounds to heal another person’s pain.

I’ll bet you have scars too. Maybe they’re not on your skin. Maybe they’re on the inside, where no one but God can see. Instead of asking “Why?” open your eyes and ask, “Who else?” Odds are that someday you’ll meet someone with the same scars.



Read Isaiah 53:3-6. The Bible says that the Messiah had to suffer and die. Jesus knows our suffering, and “by his wounds we are healed.” Think about it. Why was it necessary for Jesus to suffer? How are we healed because of his pain? Does being a disciple of Christ mean that we suffer for the sake of others?

Steven James is from Johnson City, Tennessee.

—from devozine (March/April 2000). Copyright © 2000 by The Upper Room®. All rights reserved.

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