Nov 9th, 2019
During one of our many visits to Walter Reed Army Medical Center to meet with wounded warriors, we met a bitter young soldier struggling with wounds he received from friendly fire. In a terrible mistake, he suffered injuries from his own country’s military.
As my wife, Gracie, walked over to greet him, he rudely snapped at her. Lying on his back while working out on a physical therapy table, he could only see Gracie from the waist up. This young man had no idea of her seventy plus operations, or the loss of both of her own legs. The physical therapist working with him looked embarrassed, and quickly tried to cover for Gracie by telling the young man that she was welcome there–and had a lot of practical advice worth hearing.
Disbelieving the therapist, he snarled back hatefully. Momentarily stunned, she regained her composure, and, while holding on to a railing, propped her right prosthetic leg near where his head rested on the low workout table.
He not only noticed her state-of-the-art metal leg beside him (encased in a beautiful shoe, I might add), but his eyes turned to watch her balancing on her other artificial leg, as well.
“You’re not the only amputee in here, big guy.” Gracie said, while looking him squarely in the eye.
The soldier in him quietly nodded at her, and he didn’t say anything else.
Ten feet away, I listened to a man who, although he lost both legs, cracked jokes with a contagious sense of humor. His face clouded over, however, when I pointedly asked him how things were back home.
Looking down at his new prosthetic legs, he whispered out, “My marriage is on the rocks, and it doesn’t look good.”
The loss of his legs didn’t keep him from joking, but the wounds of his heart silenced the laughter.
I asked another mother in the PT room if her son’s father had been up to the hospital. Looking over at her son’s newly amputated left leg, as well as the halo device holding the pins piercing his right leg, her jaw tightened as she flatly said, “He left years ago, and good riddance.”
How many of us deal with deep wounds caused by those closest to us? How many of us have caused damage to the ones we love and swore to protect? Sometimes “friendly fire” wounds are compounded with the shame of the wound itself—we feel our wounds come with dishonor, and our fists clench with a rage that wants to choke the one(s) who hurt us. Other times, we realize with horror how poorly we treated those counting on us, and the guilt and shame fill us with despair.
It’s easy to recall those things that cause hot tears to pour out of our eyes—the things driving us to lash out at the ones who hit us with “friendly fire.” In our pain, we might even strike at people who are simply trying to encourage us.
Gracie propped an artificial limb on a physical therapy table to help a hurting young man gain perspective and, hopefully, see that he can move past this horrific life-altering injury.
Christ is the wounded warrior who presents His own wounds, not only to communicate perspective, but also demonstrate His love for each of us. He didn’t just prop a metal leg on the table; He laid down His life and was Himself wounded—for our sins. His wounds made it possible for ours to be healed. He never clenched His fists, but rather stretched out his hands and received the nails.
When we look at our wounds, even those inflicted by our loved ones …or even self-inflicted, it’s all too easy to despair. But when we lift our eyes to look at HIS wounds, we are strengthened to know that HE redeemed our souls—and is redeeming our wounds.
He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. Psalm 147:3
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