“For you have been given not only the privilege of trusting in Christ but also the privilege of suffering for him. We are in this struggle together...”
- Philippians 1: 29-30
It was a beautiful summer day, I was 8 years old and my sister (family appointed babysitter) had brought me to our daily appointment with the playground. We spent hours there every day! This day started out just like the rest; swinging as high as possible, shooting down the slide at world-record speeds, skipping a bar or 2 on the monkey bars! There was a new trick I had been working to perfect for weeks; hanging upside down off the top of the slide, doesn’t seem very dangerous, right? I had completed the task many times in the past, it was becoming easy, I felt invincible as I inched my way off the platform and dangled below the entry point of the giant twisty slide! Being an experienced audience member, my sister didn’t think much of it, it was just another trick for the books!
Everything was going fine until my hands started accumulating sweat and my grip loosened. ‘Just hold tight, you’ll be fine,’ I thought to myself. Well, that wasn’t the case, my invincible grip failed me at the worst possible moment and I fell, hitting the backside of every single one of those 150 steps on the way down (alright, it was probably only about 8-10, but it felt like a lot more!).
Upon my arrival on the wood-chipped ground, blood greeted me almost as quickly as my screaming sister! Survived; yes, but not without damage! We rushed to the hospital where I still remember being treated by the most kind-hearted doctor. She stitched me up and before long I was on my way with evidence of my adventure (Monday morning show-and-tell was going to be awesome!). I must have kept my hospital bracelet on for a week! Of course, as the story played on I may have embellished how tough I actually was. The tears I cried didn’t seem like as many the further time went on and after long enough, I don’t even remember crying at all! I just had a gnarly scar to remind me of that day, especially since the hospital bracelet had worn out and fallen off.
Fast-forward 26 years and you’ll find the most protective father on the playground. Seriously, I’m a walking safety net! Even if my memory doesn’t feel the pain of falling so long ago, I remember how much it hurt and if I forget then I’m reminded by the scar on my forehead every time I look in the mirror.
So, what am I getting at, avoid misusing playground equipment? Not quite! A few stitches probably don’t seem like that big of a deal, and quite frankly it isn’t, but the scar that remains is the fruit of the lesson. How many of us have scars and worn hospital bracelets? I’m not talking about a fall from the slide, or an injury that left you with a physical scar. Maybe that’s part of your story, but maybe it’s a scar deep inside of you. The wound you once had, or might be currently healing from, is for a purpose. God works in our wounds, He heals us how only He can, He teaches us how only He can, He brings us to places that we couldn’t go without the wounds.
You’re stronger than you might think you are
But, here’s the deal; others need to know what your hospital bracelet’s all about, they need to know about your scars. Be careful not to think it’s just a crazy coincidence if there’s somebody placed in your life that is going through what you already experienced. They might need your help; God may have placed you in their life because of how you’ve been prepared through your trip to the hospital. Whatever your ‘scar’ may be, whatever the reason you wore a hospital bracelet, God is going to use your story if you allow Him. What was once a difficult season, a shameful experience, or a hurtful time will be the very thing that God uses to help somebody else.
“He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us. For the more we suffer for Christ, the more God will shower us with his comfort through Christ.”
- 2 Corinthians 1: 4-5
“Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: What! You too? I thought I was the only one.”
- C.S. Lewis
Wear your bracelet proudly, share your testimony with others and let them see how God has worked through your wounds and refined you! What was once ashes, God will make beautiful.
…to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor.
- Isaiah 61:3
Father, I can’t change what I’ve been through. But, God, you know my scars, you know my hurts, you know my heart. Use me, Father, give me strength for your glory, that I may be a light to another, an encouragement to someone in need, a support for whoever needs my story. Thank you for making me a new creation and refining me to be a solider for your Kingdom. Amen
“And I want you to know, my dear brother and sisters, that everything that has happened to me here has helped to spread the Good News”
- Philippians 1: 12