It was a Sunday afternoon and my daughter and I spent a few hours in our favorite discount department store after months of quarantine had kept its doors closed and ours as well. There was a certain amount of concern, perhaps anxiety, that went along with this trip. Emily was just a few days away from having a baby and we had been extremely careful to remain physically distant from others for such a long time. Venturing out into public places felt a bit strange as we walked through the doors. It didn’t take long, however, until the newness wore off and we found ourselves laughing and shopping, enjoying the day together.
I dropped Emily off at her house only to receive a call from her a few minutes later. As I answered the call I could hear loud painfilled wailing coming from the other end of the phone as she cried out in pain for me to come back.
With an ungloved hand, Emily had taken hold of a skillet and pulled it out of a 425° oven. Immediately, excruciating, burning pain ran from her unprotected hand onto nerve endings causing her to scream loudly. Within minutes I arrived to find my daughter, tears rolling down her cheeks, burn covering the inside of her hand. With medical advice, we began to run her hand under cold water, which temporarily alleviated the pain, as long as her hand was in the water.
Three hours later, we thought we would be able to make the five minute drive to my house where we could better take care of the wound. Still crying, Emily removed her hand from the water. I counted 14 second degree blisters on the inside of her left hand.
As we pulled onto the road, the burning pain began again and Emily began to cry louder. We live in a tourist town and had to go right down Main Street to reach our house. Many people were outside enjoying the beautiful day, window shopping, listening to the music of the street musicians on the corners and enjoying ice cream, seemingly without a care in the world, until our car passed by them.
The windows of our car were open and Emily’s screams were loud, heard by all. Bystanders, tourists and others looked up to see the source of the screams. I would imagine they were expecting to see something other than what they saw. A mother and a daughter were driving by. Both were shaken, one was in tears, but from their vantage point, they could not the wounds.
While they heard the cries and turned to see the source, my daughter’s wounds were hidden from their view. Without understanding the source of the pain, they turned around and went back. Back to shopping, back to the music, back to their ice cream, back to their plans they had made for their day.
Hidden from their sight were 14 painful blisters they knew nothing about.
As I reflected on this scene a few days later, it came to me that there is a lesson in this story for the time we find ourselves living today. There is absolutely no comparison between the pain of a burned hand and the pain of the horrific events our nation has witnessed as lives have been taken and the ugly results of racism continue to be exposed, but in the middle of this story there lies a truth.
People have wounds. Deep wounds that have been inflicted through painful words, painful places, painful events, wounds that others know nothing about.
Perhaps you are one who is wounded. Perhaps you are one who has heard the cries as those with wounds pass you by.
It is so easy to hear the cries and not understand, to hear the words, but not see the wounds that have hurt for so many years, to show sympathy and then look away, back to the business of life, back to the plans of the day. But this time it is different.
Painful wounds are being exposed. Conversations are taking place. People are speaking and others are listening. These wounds have always been there but the source of the pain is being seen, being heard. It is no longer possible to turn and look away.
Be it in this situation or any other painful situation we deal with in life, we don’t know the hidden pain that people have carried or are wearing on the inside of their palms today. It is easy to hear the screams and then turn away, but we have been called to be a part of the healing in painful places, part of the solution.
Emily went to bed the night of the injury with her hand in a bowl of water. When she woke up in the early hours of the next morning, twelve hours after the injury occurred, she removed her hand from the water to find that an amazing thing had happened.
Her wounds were healed. The blisters were gone. All fourteen blisters that had been present and painful had gone away. The hand that we thought would be bandaged at the upcoming birth of her daughter was fully healed and fully functional. I stared at the very same hand that had been covered in painful blisters and thanked God for a miracle.
When we told this story to a friend the next day, she shared with me that perhaps Emily’s pregnancy may have been part of the healing. Without having researched to see if it is fact, what if the nine months of producing new cells and growing life inside of her body actually became an overflow of life to heal on the outside?
Perhaps the new life inside of her had something to do with the healing on the outside.
Perhaps the new life on the inside of us can be a source of healing as well. Perhaps it will expose where we have fallen short, perhaps it will be present in our conversations, perhaps it will lead to the healing we all so desperately need.
2 Corinthians 5 tells us that as Christ’s representatives, we have been given the ministry of reconciliation. God uses us to persuade men and women to drop their differences and make things right between them.
God has given us the task of telling everyone what he is doing. We’re Christ’s representatives. God uses us to persuade men and women to drop their differences and enter into God’s work of making things right between them. We’re speaking for Christ himself now: Become friends with God; he’s already a friend with you. 2 Cor 5:18-20
It’s impossible to do on our own, but with the Holy Spirit living on the inside, with the new life that has found its home in our hearts, the life on the inside should be a source of healing for the hurts on the outside.
It will flow into our conversations, it will flow into our relationships. We will be compelled to stop, to listen, to learn and to heal.
People are passing by. They are crying out in pain, grief, confusion, deep wounds that have spanned many years. Perhaps we are one of those crying out. Perhaps we are one watching as the hurt pass us by.
Let’s not glance up and then turn away. Let’s press in, look into the places we may not have seen and bring the healing balm that only He can bring that springs up from the new life inside of us.
The new life inside of me can speak life to the broken around me. The new life inside of you can speak life to the broken around you.
Wounds that are exposed can be healed. How desperately we need healing in our world today.
Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace, to the broken around me, to my broken heart, let the life that You have placed inside of me spring up to bring healing. Start with me today. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.