By Dr. Victoria Moots
Have you ever had a scar? Not long after birth we begin to accumulate scars, not just physical but emotional scars, what they mean to us and why scars are necessary. You may wonder why scars are necessary and why God couldn’t make wounds heal without scars. Wouldn’t that be nice? But scars are a necessary part of the wound healing process. You may also wonder, “Why were there scars in Jesus body? Why wasn’t his body healed completely when he was raised from the dead?
We are going to see why. Scars are part of the natural healing progress and appear in all sizes: long, short, wide and narrow and they all tell a story. They tell a story of something that happened in the past, whether it was an injury or a surgery. They have a meaning to us. Bodies are identified by scars, tattoos and other markings that are found. As a doctor I can find out on physical exam what kind of surgeries you have had, even if you have forgotten. I see a scar and I ask “What was this from?” Sometimes as they are telling me, they become a little bit emotional because of the circumstances associated with the scar.
Scars are important physically and spiritually. Jesus was identified after His resurrection and will be identified in the future by His scars. In John 20:19-29, we read the account of when Jesus appeared to His disciples behind closed doors. He showed them His hands and His side and they believed. But one of the disciples, Thomas, who wasn’t there, stated that he would not believe unless he saw for himself and was able to put his finger into the print of the nails and thrust his hand into His side into of the nails and thrust his hand into the wound in His side. We all know where the scar came from in His side – it was where the soldier thrust the spear into his heart to be sure He was dead. (I am going to talk a little more about what that scar meant later).
Thomas had to see the physical evidence that Jesus was raised from the dead, so Jesus did appear to Thomas and invite him to examine those scars. And he believed. In Zech. 13:6 it says, “And one shall say unto him, What are those wounds in thine hands?” then he shall answer, “Those with which I was wounded in the house of my friends.” Jesus scars were His identification. Then in Zech. 12:10 it says and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced.”
As I said before scars are a reminder of a previous injury or surgery. They tell a story and can be a testimony of healing. Scars are not evidence of crucifixion because you must be alive to make scars. Anyone else other than Jesus that was crucified did not have scars because they all died. Scars show healing, not just injury. Jesus scars were evidence of His resurrection and His healing.
Now let’s look at the physical process of wound healing and scar formation to better understand their spiritual meaning. In the physical this is a very complex process but I’m going to try to simplify it a little. It is actually called “regeneration,” which means “replacement of destroyed tissue with new tissue.”
Doesn’t God do this spiritually for us also? The scripture says that if any man be in Christ he is a new creature (creation); old things are passed away and all things are become new. So when He regenerates us (the new birth), he replaces the old destroyed tissue with new tissue. He doesn’t just patch up our old sinful life. He gave us a new life, a resurrection life; we are born again. It means the regeneration of our lives by taking away the old and replacing it with the new.
One of the purposes of scars in our lives is to create a new thing that is pleasing unto God. Fibrosis is the formation of connective tissue that we call scar tissue. That is what we see on the outside as evidence of healing, but there is something going on in the inside at the same time. Tissue injury, as accident or surgery, causes bleeding which starts inflammatory events into motion. It happens spiritually and emotionally also. Sometimes we get angry and we become inflamed, but God used that inflammation for it is a necessary part of the wound in healing, (in the natural and the spiritual).
Special cells called mast cells and macro phages release inflammatory chemicals which cause the capillaries (small blood vessels) to dilate (open up) and become permeable (for leaky). This white cells and plasma which is rich in clotting proteins and antibodies to seep into the injured areas. This happens very quickly and forms a clot to stop the bleeding and hold the wound edges together, sealing it off from bacteria. Then the outer part of the clot hardens and forms a scab. That’s nature’s “Band-Aid” that helps protect the wound. Dead calls and other debris in the wound are eaten up by the macrophages (like Pac-man).
In the spiritual sense the Holy Spirit cleans up our emotional wounds in much the same way doing a hidden inner work to rid us of the harmful debris that Satan and the world throw at us to destroy us. This is taking place underneath, below the scab, not on the outside. People sometimes try to add insult to injury by things they say and the things they do to us but on the inside the Holy Spirit is working in us to cleanse and heal us.
While the inflammatory process of wound healing is going on, the first phase of tissue repair, called organization begins. God is well organized. He does all things decently and in order, according to His plan for our lives, according to His schedule. Sometimes we get a little impatient and start picking at the scab.
We say, “Ok, I want to see if there is any new skin under there.” So we pull the scab off and the process of healing takes longer. We do the same thing spiritually, but God is patient. He continues to work with us, and the process of healing goes on. Sometimes we get a little infection in there because we have “messed with it” and the scar may be a little bigger. But God works all things together for our good. The bigger the scar, the bigger the testimony can be, even when we mess things up God continues to work on the inside.
Next, granulation tissue forms containing new blood vessels (capillaries) and fibroblasts which grow into the wound to bridge the gap where tissue has been split apart. The fibroblasts are somewhat elastic and actually pull the edges of the wound together. How does this apply to us spiritually? In the same manner God is working in us to help pull our broken lives and hearts back together, like the fibroblasts. As we continue to cling to Him that helps the healing process. The macrophages (Pac-man cells) begin to dissolve the old blood clot, which was necessary in the first place to stop the bleeding. Every part of the hearing process is necessary. We can’t leave any of the steps out. Everything that God does in your life to help you heal from emotional scars in necessary, even the inflammatory phase when you get angry with God. But God used that inflammation for healing.
At the same time the outer layer of skin (epithelium) begins to regenerate growing under the scab. Collagen fibers are aid down, and granulation tissue forms a fibrous patch which we call a scar. That is the permanent part of the healing process that stays there to hold the wound edges together. The scab needs to stay on till it begins to loosen around the edges and fall off. We need to leave our hands off physically and spiritually while God is doing the healing. The Holy Spirit is not only working in us but in the other people, the ones who have hurt or injured us in some way, healing the inflammation.
We have all seen signs of inflammation, a little swelling and redness around the wound that is usually gone in a few days and does not indicate infection. If it is getting worse, then it could mean infection. In the natural body, doctors usually sew the wound edges together to speed up healing and decrease the amount of scar tissue needed to seal the wound, but there will always be a scar. When we have been offended, when we have been hurt, we need to go to the Lord, the Great physician. He can decrease the amount of the emotional scar we have if we turn it over to the Lord early. He can heal us if we turn it over to Him late too, but we will have a bigger scar.
To be continued next issue – Part 2.