Tooele Transcript Bulletin – News in Tooele, Utah

February 22, 2023
God may not change our pain, but He will change us as we go through it

Behind every scar is a story. 

It was May 19, 1999, the opening night of “Star Wars: The Phantom Menace” and an exciting time to be alive. I waited with patient enthusiasm for my best friend to come and pick me up for the movie. It wasn’t the best situation socially, considering the fact that we were going with his mom and little brother, but if that was the cost of admission, I was willing to pay it. Besides, I didn’t have much more to lose regarding my social status at this point in my life. 

The politics of junior high are brutal, and since all attempts at getting a girlfriend seemed to end in embarrassment, I might as well embrace the nerd I was. Space wizards fighting evil with light swords was something I could understand. Girls and popularity were things from a galaxy far, far away. 

In my nervous excitement, my lips became dry and chapped. I ran outside to grab the chapstick from the center console of my sister’s Pontiac Firebird. It was an older model painted purple with rainbow sparkles that danced in the sunlight. Yeah, it was awesome. I grabbed the chapstick and slammed the heavy steel passenger door with a great heave as I turned to run back into the house. 

As I took a step forward, my other arm pulled me back. I wasn’t sure what was going on, but my arm seemed caught on something. I turned to see why my arm wasn’t moving along with the rest of my body. That’s when I noticed my thumb was still mostly inside the car while the rest of me was trying to walk away. 

This was a strange phenomenon. My brain was so full of endorphins that not only was I so tunnel-visioned that I seemed to have lost some motor control, but there was no pain or feeling at all. That is until I saw what had happened, and my brain finally caught up with reality. Then the pain and panic set in. 

I opened the fully closed and latched door of demise to see what was left of my poor thumb. It was as purple as my sister’s Firebird and about twice the size it used to be. To make matters worse, there was a bloody stump where my nail used to be. I ran inside, full of panic and fear. 

My mom wrapped it up and gave me some Tylenol. She tried to convince me to stay home and doctor my wound, but I would have none of it. I was going to the premiere of this movie. I did go. Despite the intense throbbing that started at my thumb and shot up my arm all night, I can say I was there on opening night. 

Looking back, I now realize this isn’t something worth bragging about, but it sure seemed like it at the time. To this day, my thumb has never really been the same. Although the nail eventually grew back, it has always had an ugly black streak going up it, and at the end, it splits into bottom and top halves rather than just one whole piece. When I look at it, I’m reminded not only of the first time I saw a double-bladed lightsaber but, more importantly, that when I am determined enough, I can endure great pain. 

This is a life lesson I would desperately need years later when faced with the much greater emotional pain of losing loved ones. In my darkest moments, one passage of scripture has continually come back to me. James 1:2–4, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” 

The harsh reality is that life is full of pain and loss due to sin. Our prayer in these moments is often for God to take the pain away. However, in his great wisdom, God has decided not to change our circumstances but to change us as we walk through our circumstances. This is often not the answer we want, but it is the greater miracle when you think about it. Instead of taking away the pain, God can take that pain and use it to make us stronger. 

To grow us closer to Him. Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” This is often the last thing I want to hear while going through it, but it should give us great hope. Though we don’t always see it, God has a purpose in the pain. We don’t have to suffer for no reason. There is hope in the pain. There is light at the end of the tunnel. 

Without Christ, it’s all meaningless, but in him, there is victory. Jesus told us in John 16:33, “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” 

We all have scars. The troubles of this world have left their mark on us. However, those scars can tell a story of hope and healing. They can tell us that when all else fails us, Christ alone is enough. In his hands are the scars of the cross caused by our sin. He willingly endured great pain because of His great love and passion, not for some stupid sci-fi flick but for the real story of your life. He wants to be a part of your story if you let him. 

I don’t know what you might be facing today, but I know Jesus wants to give you the endurance to make it through with a story worth telling. 

Trevor Rickard is an Associate Pastor at New Life Christian Fellowship.

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