Joel Osteen — Peace With Your Scars
I want to talk to you today about Peace with Your Scars. You can't live very long without being injured, going through hurts and pains. And sometimes, the wound heals up and there's no sign that it ever happened. But there are certain wounds that are so severe, a cut so deep, they heal up, the pain goes away, but they leave a scar. Scars from falling off a bike as a child, or scars from the surgery to remove the illness, scars from the accident. There are physical scars, scars that we can see, but there are also invisible scars, scars that come from inner wounds. Scarred by the divorce, scarred by what somebody said, scarred by mistakes that we made.
So often, we try to hide our scars. We don't see anything positive about it, reminds us of the hurt, the sickness, the betrayal. We wish they'd go away. But we need to see our scars in a new light. God did not allow that scar to discourage you, he allowed it to remind you of what he brought you through. When you see the scar, don't think of the pain, think of the grace of God. The scar means the wound is healed. The scar means the pain is over and you're moving forward. The scar means what kept you awake at night is now behind you. Don't get bitter and live in regrets. That scar is a reminder of how faithful God has been. Without his mercy, that mistake could've stopped your purpose. Without his healing, that sickness could've been the end.
When you're tempted to get discouraged, think an obstacle is too big, just look at that scar. "God, you healed me back then. You restored my marriage. You helped me through the loss of my loved one. It wasn't easy, it left a scar. But this scar is a reminder of your goodness. You did it for me back then, I know you'll do it for me right now". If you'll see your scars the right way, they'll be fuel for your faith. They'll remind you of the goodness of God. But you don't have to try to hide your scars. You don't have to be embarrassed by what you've been through. You can be at peace with your scars.
No one in the scripture fulfilled their destiny without scars. We all get wounded, things happen in life that we didn't see coming. An unexpected illness, a loss, people come against us, we make mistakes. And if you're going to fulfill your destiny, instead of being depressed by what you went through, instead of going around in self-pity 'cause it wasn't fair, have a new perspective. The enemy tried to stop you, but God healed you. How do you know? You have a scar to prove it. You're not ashamed of it, you're not depressed over it. You're at peace with your scars. You know it was the hand of God protecting you, not letting that opposition defeat you. The scar doesn't have to remind you of the pain, it can remind you of the greatness of God. The enemy wasn't able to take you out. Sure you have a scar, sure it was painful, but now you've come through, healed, restored, vindicated, blessed, fulfilling your purpose.
I read about a young lady, she'd been in Africa volunteering at an orphanage. Driving back to the airport, she was in a head on collision, very serious accident. Her face was cut from the top of her forehead around her eye down to her chin. It took hundreds of stitches to sow it up. She's a beautiful young lady, looks like a model, now her face was forever changed, permanently scarred. After it healed, people were concerned about her self-esteem and how she was going to handle it. Much to their surprise, she didn't get bitter, she wasn't depressed. She was extremely grateful. She knew she could've easily lost her life. And this was several years ago. Sometimes, she'll go out now without wearing any makeup. She doesn't even try to cover the scar up. She wears it with pride. She realizes that she is blessed to be alive.
Your scars can remind you of the pain, or they can remind you of the grace of God. Are you at peace with your scars, or are you trying to hide them, living guilty, mad at who hurt you, bitter by what you've been through. Those scars are not there to depress you, they are there to encourage you. They are reminders of what God brought you through. It may have been painful, it wasn't fair, but without the goodness of God, you wouldn't be where you are. You'd still be wounded, you'd still be hurting. But look at you now, you're restored, you're healed, you're moving forward.
My friend Da'dra, one of our worship leaders, developed this huge goiter on her neck. It grew to the size of a man's fist. It was so large, she was in danger of it blocking her windpipe. She'd been to several doctors, but they wouldn't touch it. It was too close to her vocal chords. They were concerned she might lose her voice. And Da'dra's an amazing singer, she's been leading worship since a little child. After going to several doctors, being told no time and time again, she was at home researching surgeons on the internet. This doctor from Nashville stood out, something said, "He's the one". She went to see him, and he said he would do the surgery, but it was risky. He had to fly in another surgeon to assist him. So complicated, it was going to take two of them. She had the surgery, it was completely successful.
She was told that she could be out up to a year, but three months later she was back singing. Six months later, she had her full range. A year later, she had more range than before the surgery. But when Da'dra sings, there's this scar across her neck. It's interesting that she doesn't necessarily try to cover it up. She doesn't only wear high neck blouses. She's at peace with that scar. At one time, it didn't look good. Month after month, she didn't know what she was going to do. But now, when she sees that scar, she's not bitter, "Look what I had to go through. Look at the pain I endured". That scar reminds her of the faithfulness of God. It reminds her that God is directing her steps, bringing the right people, that God being for her is more than any force trying to stop her.
But sometimes, we have scars from self-inflicted wounds. We made poor choices. We have no one to blame except ourselves. My freshman year of high school, I was running around the track with our basketball team, we were doing conditioning drills and had to run a couple of miles. I had been playing around and falling behind. The team was about 100 yards in front of me, they turned around and started teasing me. We were just having fun. Well, the coach went into the field house, he couldn't see, so I cut across the football field, and was going to get way out in front of them. When they saw me take off, they started laughing. They knew if the coach saw me, I would be done. But just as I was about to make it to the other side, there was this metal drain cover on the ground, a big grate. I didn't want to step on it, so I stepped right before it.
What I couldn't see is the water had eroded the dirt and there was a hole about a foot-and-a-half deep. The grass had grown up and you couldn't tell. Well, I stepped in that hole with one leg, fell, and my knee hit the metal drain cover. I turned to somersault and kept running. The team, they started laughing, they thought that was so funny, so did I until I looked down and I could see my kneecap outside my skin. I had broken my kneecap, had to have surgery, missed the basketball season that year.
Now, I never told my coach what really happened, and I hope he's not listening. But now I have this big scar on my knee. When I look at it, I could be reminded of my mistake, live in regrets, "What was I thinking? Why didn't I just do what I was supposed to"? But I have a different perspective. When I see that scar, I thank God that I can still run. I thank him for his mercy, that even though I made the mistake, even though it was my fault, he brought me through healthy and strong. The truth is all of us have scars from mistakes we've made. Maybe not physically, but invisible scars. We got off course, we gave into temptation. We hung around people that pulled us down. We didn't take care of our marriage. We could let those scars remind us of our mistakes, go around guilty, or we can let them remind us of the grace of God.
God didn't allow that scar so you can constantly think about your failures. He allowed it so you would think about his mercy, his forgiveness. Quit beating yourself up over the past. The enemy is called the accuser. He'd love for you to live in regrets, down on yourself, not enjoying the grace of God because you're so focused on mistakes you've made and what you did wrong, trying to hide the scars. Those scars weren't meant to be hidden. You have nothing to be ashamed of. You are forgiven, you are redeemed. That scar is a reminder of the mercy of God. Don't let it be turned into something that makes you feel guilty. God has done too much for us. He's paid too big a price. He has brought you too far for you to shrink back in guilt. You can be at peace with your scars. Nothing you've done is a surprise to God. He knew every mistake we would make. He knew every time we would take a wrong turn. He wouldn't have allowed it if it was going to keep us from our purpose.
My father was married at an early age. Unfortunately, the marriage didn't work out. He was embarrassed, denominational leaders told him that he would never pastor again. When you're wounded, there will always be people that, instead of being a healer and pouring the oil on the wounds, help you get back on your feet, they'll judge you by your mistakes. They'll try to disqualify you. But people don't have the final say. They didn't call you, they didn't breathe life into you. They didn't know you before you were formed in your mother's womb. People may have written you off, but don't get discouraged, God has already written you on. He chose you before you could choose him.
The scripture says, "God's calling on your life is irrevocable". That means God doesn't change his mind. He's already decided to show you mercy. He's already decided to heal the wound and give you another chance. Don't believe those lies that you blew it, you had your chance, just sit on the sidelines. Get back in the game. The scar doesn't mean you're finished. The scar is a sign that you've been healed. It's a sign that you're ready for action. If God was through with you, you wouldn't still be here. There's something for you to do. You have an assignment. Somebody needs what you have. Somebody needs your smile. Somebody needs your love. Somebody needs your gifts. "Not me, Joel. I have all these wounds, I have all these scars". Everybody has scars. The scars don't disqualify you, the scars prepare you. You learn from every experience. You're gaining something you're going to need down the road. Nothing you've been through has been wasted. It's all a part of God's plan.
Several years after my dad was divorced, he met my mother, they fell in love and were married for over 40 years. And my father went on to pastor great churches and minister to people around the world. But he could've let that scar stop him. Every time he looked at it, he could've thought, "I'm not qualified. Look what I've been through. I can't minister to others". But he saw that scar in a different light. Instead of discouraging him, it reminded him of the mercy of God. Instead of living condemned, it's just the opposite. He would thank God that he was restored. Why? He was at peace with his scars.
Are you beating yourself up over the past, not pursuing dreams, not passionate about life? The enemy keeps reminding you of those self-inflicted wounds, how you blew it, you had your chance. Next time he comes showing you that scar, trying to make you feel guilty, just turn it around. "This scar reminds me of the mercy of God. It reminds me that I'm redeemed, that I'm forgiven". I've heard it said only God can take an ugly wound and turn it into a scar of beauty.
Sounds like a contradiction. How can a scar be beautiful? We see scars as painful, ugly. We'd rather forget, we try to hide. But our God knows how to take an ugly wound, a bitter divorce, a painful loss, an unexpected illness, and somehow change it into something beautiful. We didn't deserve the mercy. We didn't see how it could work out. The odds were against us. But God not only brought us through, he turned it into a scar of beauty. Now when we look at it, we're so blessed, we're so grateful, we don't remember the pain, we don't remember the heartache. We remember the goodness of God.
My mother had polio when she was a child, and one of her legs is much smaller than the other. She walks with a limp. I've never heard her complain about her limp, never seen her discouraged about her leg. When she looks at that scar, so to speak, she doesn't see it in a negative light, "Oh, look what happened to me". Her attitude is, "Lord, thank you that I can walk. Thank you for your goodness in my life". That scar is not a reminder of the pain, it's a scar of beauty. It reminds her what God brought her through.
In the scripture, Jacob had a lot of self-inflicted wounds. He was dishonest and went around cheating people. He tricked his brother out of his birthright. Caused him a lot of heartache and pain. Later in life, he decided to make a change. He went down to the brook by himself to get alone with God. An angel appeared that looked like a man and wrestled with Jacob all night. The next morning, the angel was about to leave, Jacob held onto him and said, "I know who you are. I'm not going to let you go until you bless me". The angel gave him the blessing and he left. In the struggle, Jacob hurt his hip. The scripture says, "He walked away with a limp, but he had his blessing".
What am I saying? You can have a limp and still be blessed. You can have a scar and still be successful. You can go through a breakup like my father and still do great things. But too often, we think our scars limit us. Some of them weren't even our fault, scarred from a tough childhood, or scarred from a breakup, scarred from a illness. Those scars don't have to stop you. The scars are your testimony. That's your story. You don't have to hide them, everyone has scars.
"Well, Joel, I've been through so much. I have so many scars. I don't see how I could ever accomplish my dreams". I know someone that has more scars than you, and he fulfilled his purpose. He came 2,000 years ago. He was betrayed by his friends, misunderstood by his family. He was forced to wear a crown of thorns. His hands and feet were pierced where they nailed him to a cross, had a big gouge in his side from a spear. His back was lashed with 39 stripes. Who is more scarred than our Savior? And what amazes me is when Jesus rose from the dead, when he came up out of the grave, you would think he would be completely healed, everything restored back to normal. But even though resurrection power caused him to come back to life, he still had scars.
This is significant because God could've taken them away. The scripture even talks about how when we get to heaven, we're going to have new bodies, no scars. God could've made his skin like new, but on purpose he left the scars. Maybe in part it was to show us that it's okay to have scars, it's okay that you've made mistakes, it's okay that people betrayed you, it's okay that you lost that loved one. You can be at peace with your scars knowing that we are worshiping a Savior who has scars. God is saying, "Don't let the disappointments, what didn't work out, who hurt you, or even your own mistakes cause you to settle in life, lose your passion".
Our Savior has scars, but he rose from the dead. Jesus has scars, but he's at the right hand of the father. What makes you think your scars disqualify you? We all want the scars to go away. We don't want any reminder of the hurt, the sickness, the betrayal. But I can't promise you the scars will go away. Some of them last a lifetime. But I can promise you they don't have to keep you from your destiny. You have to be at peace with your scars. There are a lot of things in life we don't understand, why we came down with an illness, why we lost a loved one, why we walk with a limp. Those scars are not there to hold you back, they are reminders of the grace of God of what he's brought you through. And it's very powerful when you can say, "I worship a Savior who has scars. And since he has scars, you know what? I'm okay with my scars. I'm not going to live bitter because of a disappointment, not going to go around in regrets beating myself up over past mistakes. I'm not going to be sour because I had this disappointment. I'm at peace with my scars".
After the resurrection, the disciples were in a room together, afraid. They had the doors locked when Jesus suddenly appeared. John 20 says, "He held out his hands for them to see his scars. He showed them the wounds on his side". Thomas wasn't there that day, and when they told him that they had seen the Lord, he thought they were just distraught and probably saw him in their imagination. He said, "I'm not going to believe until I feel the nail prints in his hands, until I touch the wound on his side". A week later, Jesus appeared again. This time, Thomas was there. Jesus went over to him, held out his hands, and said, "Thomas, touch my scars. Feel the wound on my side". Thomas fell down, "Lord, I believe".
Maybe someone needs to touch your scars to believe. Maybe they need to hear how God brought you through the difficulty, how God gave you your voice back like Da'dra, how God restored you and gave you a new beginning like my father. Don't hide your scars, show your scars. There's healing in your scars. There's restoration in your scars. Your scars can inspire someone to believe. People all around us are wounded. They're hurting, they're discouraged, they're lonely. Like the disciples, they don't know how they're going to make it. But when they see your scars, when they hear how God healed you, restored you, blessed you, that will breathe new life back into their spirits. Are you hiding your scars, embarrassed by what you've been through, bitter over who hurt you? God didn't show you mercy just for your sake. Those scars are for somebody else. He turned that around because he knows he can trust you with scars.
When Jesus first arose, he appeared to Mary Magdalene at the garden tomb. And when she recognized him, she went to hug him, but Jesus said, "Stop, don't touch me yet". He had not yet ascended to the Father to present the sacrifice. And there are times when you're not ready for people to touch your scars. You're still going through the healing process. A scar doesn't happen overnight, takes time. You may be in a difficult situation, you're waiting to be healed, waiting to be restored, the wound is still painful. Like with Jesus, the time is coming when the pain is going to be gone, the wound is going to be healed. You'll have a scar not to remind you of the pain, but to remind you of the grace of God. Then you can tell people, "Touch my scars. Here's what God has done for me".
John chapter 5, Jesus healed a man that had been crippled for 38 years. He said to him, "Stand up, pick up your mat, and go home". Instantly, the man could walk. It's significant that Jesus told him to take his mat with him. I'm sure after all those years, that mat was probably dirty, had holes in it, didn't smell too good. Why didn't Jesus tell him, "Hey, throw the mat away. You can walk. You're not going to need it anymore"? That mat was like a scar. It was a reminder of what God had done. It was a part of his story. I can imagine everywhere the man went, people would ask, "What are you doing still carrying this old mat"? He would answer, "It may look ugly to you, but to me, this is a beautiful mat". Every time he looked at it, it brought a smile to his face. Under his breath, he would whisper, "Lord, thank you for healing me".
God could tell us to leave our mats, he could take away the scars, say, "There's no sign of them anymore". But one reason he leaves them is not only so we'll remember what he's done, but so we can tell others. Are you at peace with your scars? Are you looking back with gratitude thanking God? Or are you looking back bitter, wondering why it happened? Have a new perspective. The scar means you're healed. The scar means you're forgiven. The scar means you can walk again. You may still have your mat, that's simply to remind you of the greatness of God. And when you see other people who are wounded, do like Jesus. Tell them, "Touch my scars. Let me tell you what God did for me, he can do for you". If you'll do this, I believe and declare God is going to take those ugly wounds and turn them into scars of beauty. What was meant for your harm he's about to turn for your good. Healing is coming, freedom is coming, breakthroughs are coming, victory is coming in Jesus's name.