If I were to introduce you to my daughter, she would tell you that she loves the color blue, she loves to sing along with her radio and that she loves a good California roll at our local sushi restaurant.
What you wouldn’t know is that she was born with a wound: a physical wound that bears a striking resemblance to the spiritual wounds we carry.
My daughter was born with what is referred to in the medical world as a “tethered cord.” You see, when she was itty bitty and her spine was forming, there was a spot that didn’t quite close all the way and she was born with a small hole in her back.
Shortly after she was born, the tethered cord was discovered, and she was whisked way to the NICU because she had now entered a world with germs! That tiny spot no bigger than the tip of my pinky, was left unprotected and vulnerable.
I love the story of Joseph in the Bible…
Joseph was Isaac’s beloved son, not so much to his brothers though. His story unfolded something like this: he was betrayed by his brothers; he was enslaved; he was imprisoned; and he was slandered by Potiphar’s wife.
Yet, in Genesis 50:20 we find a remarkable statement he made and we are going to break it down and squeeze out all the awesome truths found in it over the next couple weeks!
It begins; “But as for you, you meant evil against me….” The NIV says, “You intended to harm me.“
THIS was the story in Joseph’s wound: I was harmed; I was abandoned; I was disregarded; I was a victim.
Joseph didn’t have a choice in how his story was written.
Neither do we sometimes.
Many of us have been harmed, just like Joseph, by the decisions and actions of others, by the enemy, or by our own hands, our actions or decisions. Often our wounds are a combination of all of these.
At six months of age the doctors wanted to fix the tethered cord. Their plan was to go in surgically and close the wound. Not only was the wound unprotected and open to the outside world, there was the tether, a tiny piece of cartilage that connected from her back to her spine. Left untreated, this would stunt her growth. As she grew, this small piece of cartilage would “tether” her down, hence why it was called a tethered cord.
What can we gather about a wound?
- They carry our “I” stories. I was harmed, I was abandoned, I was…
- Open wounds leave us vulnerable & unprotected to our greatest spiritual enemy.
- Left untreated they will stunt our spiritual growth.
Let’s get back to Joseph…
Right after stating the obvious facts in the first part of Genesis 50:20 he says something rather powerful and its at the heart of this scripture.
BUT GOD . . . this is where it gets good!
YOU intended to harm me, BUT GOD . . .
These two words change everything!
I have a story of abuse, BUT GOD . . .
I have a story of being a prodigal daughter, BUT GOD . . .
I have a story of infertility, BUT GOD . . .
Those are just a few of my wounds! I’m sure we can all fill in our “I” stories.
Our nature when we are wounded is to self-protect, to self-bandage, to stop the bleeding in some way, some how. Sometimes we go years or even decades carrying around our first aid kits, wrapping our wounds with dirty bandages.
You see what I LOVE about the BUT GOD part is that it’s all about Jesus! He bled on a tree for you and for me not only for the awesome and eternal gift of salvation but also for ALL our dirty bandages.
When we come to God and we unwrap our wounds, He becomes our Jehovah Rapha and He brings the healing balm of the blood of Jesus, better than any antibiotic ointment can ever cover. He begins his work of healing.
Yet, it doesn’t end here, and that’s good news! When a wound begins to heal it must first turn into a scab. Our spiritual scabs offer us a promise that draw us closer to God and anchors us in hope.
I think it is so cool, that as a wound begins to heal, it will form a scab. A scab is a temporary form of protection.
Once we allow God to unwrap our wounds and begin the healing process, I believe, we are immediately guaranteed that spiritual protection from the enemy….
God, in all of His mercy and kindness, would never ask us to unwrap a wound and then leave us hanging, leave us vulnerable, without His divine spiritual protection.
Unlike the wound being all about us, the scab, “the healing process,” is ALL about the work of the cross.
It’s all about Jesus. There is no healing work without the cross.
There is more to this process, and this is where we can become hung up. We can become fearful of the healing process. In fact, fear is a common, legitimate human response during the stages of healing. When the gaping wound is covered over with an oozing layer of …yuck… truly, to our human eyes, the early formation of a scab does not look very promising. It does not look like progress.
“Mom! That is one good looking healing wound.” Those were the words the doctor spoke to me when I had rushed my tiny daughter to the ER shortly after her surgery thinking her incision was infected.
Years later when God was healing me of an ugly wound, I was knee-deep in the process of healing, but I didn’t like it. It wasn’t comfortable. It wasn’t easy. In the midst of my pain and struggle, God kindly reminded me of what the doctor had said that day….
The healing of our wounds is a process, and just like Sophia’s incision looked inflamed, tender, and oozing, it was a necessary process for healing. So too will our spiritual wounds go through this process.
We will be tender.
Stuff will come out.
We will hurt.
We will be uncomfortable. . . . BUT GOD has a promise for the process!
Joseph saw the promise too because he continues on in Genesis 50 to say, “But God intended it for my good.”
Could this be the same promise found in Romans 8:28, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him.” Not only will He, but He intends to. The wounding that someone, or something, or our very own hands, intended for evil, God intended for good.
One day you will feel that completed work of God in you in that area of wounding. One day I was taking Sophia’s onesie off, and her entire scab came off. Just like that — what seemed like forever, 4 months to be exact — the process was done!! And it would very soon turn into a scar.
The last part of a wound, and I’m convinced the best part, is the scar.
A scar is a memory. A scar is the very work of God in our lives, and it has a specific purpose!
The scars in our lives tell HIS story. . . .
On that day when Joseph would stare his brothers in the face, he knew the purpose:
“But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.”
Did you catch that last part? The saving of many lives!
THIS is what it’s all about — the kingdom work, the saving of many lives — this is inscribed in that very scar. Those scars we carry now reveal an entirely different story!
We serve a gracious God who loves us more than we can comprehend. We are healed by a gracious God who sent His son to die so that He can meet us in our wounded condition,take our dirty bandages, heal us, make us whole, and give us HIS story.
Jesus replaces our “I-story” with “His-story: the story of the cross, the story of love, a far better story than we can ever write for ourselves. . . and it’s a story our world needs to hear!
One day when Sophia is older I want her to tell a story that testifies to the hand of God in our lives during that season.
How did you get your scar?
I was born with a wound…
BUT GOD gave my mommy peace when doctors told her I may not be able to walk.
BUT GOD gave my mommy strength when everyone around her was falling apart.
BUT GOD showed her angels when she was afraid.
BUT GOD gave her confidence when she waited during my surgery.
BUT GOD brought provision as she juggled being a single mom and my doctors’ appointments.
THANK GOD that our stories do not end in, “You intended evil against me. . . .”
Ladies, my heart’s prayer is that you lay down your first aid kits, that you yield your bodies as the holy and renewed temples that they are, and that you find your BUT GOD.
EVERY STORY has a BUT GOD.
And when you find it — or should I say, when God reveals it to you — it will set you free because, not only will it set you free, it will be the saving of many lives.