Finding Meaning in Your Scars

I’m sure you’ve seen the Napalm Girl. It’s a 1972 Pulitzer Prize-winning photograph depicting a 9-year-old child running in terror from a bomb blast. The photo became an icon of the Vietnam War.

That girl is in her mid-fifties today. For years Phan Thi Kim Phúc suffered from the long process of recovering from the burns on her back and arms, but she also suffered from bitterness toward those who dropped the bombs, loneliness in a culture that shunned sufferers, and a constant temptation to end it all. She entered into adulthood deeply scarred, not only physically but emotionally.

She wanted answers, and as a young woman she entered into a Saigon library to find out what the world’s religions said about her suffering. She pulled down books about Bahá’í, Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, and a religion unique to Vietnam called Cao Dai. Finally, she came across a copy of the New Testament and spent an hour reading through the gospel stories about Jesus. She later wrote:

I had never been exposed to this side of Jesus—the wounded one, the one who bore scars. I turned over this new information in my mind as a gem in my hand, relishing the light that was cast from all sides….Perhaps he could help me make sense of my pain and at last come to terms with my scars.

Not long after she walked into a Christmas service, “And there,” she wrote, “in a small church in Vietnam, mere miles from the street where my journey had begun amid the chaos of war—on the night before the world would celebrate the birth of the Messiah—I invited Jesus into my heart. When I woke up that Christmas morning, I experienced the kind of healing that can only come from God. I was finally at peace.”

This Sunday at Hillcrest Church, we begin a series called Asking for a Friend: Good Answers for Tough Questions. We begin with one of the toughest objections to the Christian faith. Many wonder how anyone can believe there’s a loving God in a world of so much suffering.

Join us on campus or online at 10am. And forward this newsletter to someone who might be interested in the topic.

This blog post is from my new devotional newsletter that begins today. Or, rather, it returns. I sent “Winning Ways” for over 10 years before taking a break four years ago. I decided it was time to get it started again. Click here to sign up to receive future copies in your inbox!