Today’s Scripture: But and if ye suffer for righteousness’ sake, happy are ye… I Peter 3:14a

I have a few scars on my hand that I take pride in…guys tend to be proud of strange things, don’t we? The first scar occurred when I was a kid. I decided it would be fun to cut open a tennis ball with my brand‑new, amazing Swiss Army knife. As I cut, the knife slipped and I sliced open part of my finger. Many years later, I was with our high-schoolers at camp and had just finished telling them to be careful with their knives as they were building our campsite. Five minutes later, I was using a massive survival knife while cutting a branch. Again, I managed to cut myself, but this time I cut a tendon and had to go to a surgeon. Although scars are unsightly, they do not need to cause embarrassment. There is a similar contradiction we face in the Christian life: trouble may leave scars, but it does not have to equal distress.

Often, when we endure times of trouble, we feel that God is not watching. It seems as if somehow His all-knowing eyes do not observe our circumstances and His loving heart is untouched by our grief. We walk away from trials with scars and think, “If my heavenly Father truly loved me, I would not have to bear these marks.” However, when we look at Scripture, we see countless heroes of the faith, like the Apostle Paul, who possessed more scars than we could ever count. Throughout his ministry, he suffered beatings, shipwreck, and much more. When we read his story, we never assume that God was finished with him or that he was no longer under the Lord’s protection. The scars were a result of his hard work in the ministry—they were victory scars. We see his life in the pages of Scripture and derive strength from what the Lord brought him through.

Likewise, as believers, we can be thankful for our scars because each one represents a different trial the Lord has brought us through. Through that pain, we have seen the Lord work and know what it feels like to be completely upheld by Him alone. Because we have gone through these situations, we are better able to understand others who are going through similar hardships and are better equipped to minister to them.

Next time the Lord allows trouble to enter your life and you fear that it may cause a scar, remember it does not give you cause for distress. On the contrary, it gives you the opportunity for spiritual success.

Devotional by Jim Scudder Jr.