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Wounded

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Life is full of good and bad experiences. The good ones don’t affect us as much as the bad ones do. Oftentimes, bad experiences leave us wounded, caused by such things as the loss of a loved one, physical abuse, sickness, and injustice. Many times these wounds don’t heal; they remain open for a long time.

Sometimes we feel like Jenny in the movie Forrest Gump. She is Forrest’s friend, and her father has been sexually abusing her. After he is arrested, Jenny goes on to live with another person, but her struggles with what her father has done to her have only begun. In fact, she spends the rest of her life trying to recover from the damage done to her.

Years later, Jenny returns to the small town where she grew up to visit Forrest. Both of them, now thirty years old, walk near the house where she had lived. Upon seeing the house, Jenny is immediately flooded with painful memories of the abuse, memories that had been around for a long time. She begins to cry in pain and anger and throws her shoes at the house. Then she throws rocks. When she runs out of rocks, she collapses to the ground, crying.

Reflecting on what just happened, Forrest says, “Sometimes, I guess there just aren’t enough rocks.”

Suffering Savior

The Bible tells about the suffering that Jesus Christ experienced on earth, but He didn’t lash out in pain and anger as Jenny did. Matthew 20:17-19 describes His last stop in Jerusalem and some of the events that would take place there in the near future. Jerusalem was the center of Judaism at that time and the symbol for the people dominated by the Roman Empire. It was Jesus’ final destination where He would be betrayed, condemned to death, and crucified. The disciples would abandon Him there, and Peter would deny Him.

Jesus was crucified, just as He predicted. But His death was not the end. God had prepared something that would transcend human history: the resurrection of Christ’s crucified body. Despite this miracle of new life, Jesus bore the scars of His wounds. In fact, they ended up becoming the signs that identify Him (John 20:20-29). His scars are permanent.

This truth is significant for us. The Resurrection does not strip Jesus of His outward human condition. It provides continuity between the past and the present. Jesus continues to join each one of us in our suffering.

Jesus had the option to descend from the cross, but He didn’t. He preferred to be with us. Though He returned to heaven, He bears our wounds caused by sickness and injustice. In that way, He consoles us and heals what has damaged us.

Inner damage

In another scene in Forrest Gump, Jenny, five years old, is running from her drunken father, and she asks God to make her a bird so she can fly far from there. We can be like that, too, with hurt and anger damaging our hearts. Sometimes an angry voice inside of us yells, God, this isn’t fair! It is not OK. What did I do to deserve this?

Some wounds are emotional, psychological, and physical, and often nothing can heal them; only God can. Sometimes we live with resentment toward God because we wish we would have been born in a different place or to a different family, with better opportunities in education or jobs.

Most of us bear wounds we experienced throughout life, and we have scars from a body that managed to heal. These can be seen in two ways: We can relive the pain, the fear, or the anger that they caused us, and fall into bitterness, or we can look past them and be thankful that we were rescued from any imminent threat.

While He was on the cross, Jesus faced abandonment from the Father. “My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:45, 46), Jesus cried out — not only for Himself but for us as well. Through that cry, Jesus expressed to God our pain, suffering due to injustice, solitude, discrimination, sickness, and fear of death.

Survivors

Viktor Frankl, a Jewish psychiatrist, was captured by the Nazis and taken to Auschwitz. In his book Man’s Search for Meaning, he tells how his parents and his wife died in different concentration camps. He experienced hunger, cold, and physical and psychological abuse. The concentration camps were surrounded by electric fencing, and on several occasions, Frankl had the urge to commit suicide. But at some point he realized his purpose in the world, and he survived in the end, thanks to God being with him.

No matter how great our suffering, we don’t have to face it alone. The grace and love of God have been with us all along. As proof of this, here we are, perhaps sick, without work, and mourning, but God is present in our lives.

God knows that every one of us is experiencing the journey to pass through our own Jerusalem. Perhaps you are dealing with solitude, lack of work, sickness, or divorce. Perhaps out of helplessness you cry out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

All of us can feel like that. On one occasion, a brother from the church who had suffered with his family the effects of the virus, said, “We are survivors of
COVID-19.” We are all survivors of all the wounds caused by different circumstances in life.

What Forrest Gump said is true: Sometimes there just aren’t enough rocks. But we don’t need them. We are victorious survivors because of God’s grace through the crucified and resurrected Christ.

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Raul Cruz, born in Mexico, works for a company that provides computer maintenance. He and his wife, Claudia, have two daughters, Britania and Abigail. Raul and Claudia were baptized in 1999 in Danbury, CT. In 2001, he began self-study in theology, and in 2009-2011 he studied at the Latin American Faculty of Theological Studies (FLET) in the US. While continuing his training online, Raul serves the CoG7 in Ossining, NY.