Touching Scars

“When you were depressed,” she asked, “did you lose your faith?” Her lip trembled, a dam holding back the depths.

I’ve been filled with those waters before. I slumped crumpled on the shower’s floor and heard them spill out of me in deep groans and bellows. I cried out to God “Why have you left me? Why are you letting this happen to me?”

Indian woman bathing in the street

It was India that did it. But not by itself. I’d already traveled so many miles through slums and over garbage dumps before India. So much anger and sorrow had built up, drop by drop, that should have been let out from time to time. But I held it in because…

What right does a wealthy white man from America have to feel sad when so much of the world is powerless, suffering and poor?

And good boys don’t get angry.

And how can a leader lead with a limp?

India was the last drop. The dam didn’t hold.

“When you don’t let out these feelings,” the counselor said, “they’ll come out sideways.”

Spilling sideways in the shower, I let God have it. Up to the ceiling shot my raging raving doubts. And down the shower drain spun the illusion of strength. The waters ran hard, ripping a canyon through me, leaving me faithless and feeling cut off from God for weeks.

To bring us closer forever.

But leave me scarred.

Shaun Groves in India

She looked down waiting for my answer – her lips trembling and her hands shaking.

“Yes, I lost my faith,” I confessed. “I couldn’t pray. I couldn’t read the bible. I lost God.”

For a week the disciples told Thomas that Jesus had slipped the chains of death. “He was here!” they said, “Right here with us, Thomas!”

But Thomas didn’t believe. Couldn’t believe?

Then Jesus appeared.

“Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.” (John 20)

Thomas touched the holes left by sacrifice, slipped his hand into his friend and savior’s side. He ran his fingertips across victory over death.

Then Thomas set off for India – the farthest journey made by any of the twelve who believed. All across India he preached the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the dead – what he’d seen for himself.

“Mar Thoma” the churches are called. I’ve seen them, stood in one. Far flung places of worship planted by a man given faith by scars.

Mar Thoma India

“It helps to know you’ve been there and made it out,” she said.

As we talked I wrote her name on my hand in permanent marker. The kids check my palms for names when I come home. I tell the stories behind them and together we pray for them before bed.

For two women in Texas who touched my scars and believed, we begged God to help their unbelief, to reach into the black blanketing depths and lift them out. “Fix their brains,” a little one prayed, “like you fixed dad’s, so they can feel more than sad again.”

And make them messengers of hope to the ends of the earth…or wherever they limp to.