The Scars of the Redeemed
Harsh and difficult providences can leave very real scars, both physical and emotional. While none of us are completely free from these marks, some scars are deep. For some, it could be the result of a difficult or abusive childhood, or some sort of trauma related to the sins of their parents. Others might have had a period of rebellion, and still carry baggage from those times. Some might be carrying the pain of rejection from a former spouse who has abandoned their marriage vows. Possibly, you are carrying guilt and remorse because you were the one who caused the destruction of your marriage due to your own sin. Others have tasted repeatedly from the bitter dregs of failure in career, ministry, family, or other relationships. Do any of these situations strike somewhat close to home for you?
Redeemed Not Ruined
One word that I have heard used as a self-description by people who are dealing with the fallout from past trials and sins, as well as from pastors that are seeking to diagnose their congregants, is ruined. They feel like they are beyond repair. To say that they are damaged simply isn’t enough, because damaged goods can be fixed. A person who feels ruined can accept forgiveness, but struggles with feeling restored.
Now, I know that there are some sins, whether you were the one who committed the sin or were the one sinned against, that have real consequences that continue to play themselves out. I’m not denying that sins have consequences: crimes can incur civil penalties; broken trust requires rebuilding integrity; foolishly wasted resources do not magically reappear; abandonment does not guarantee reunion. For these reasons, and some even less extreme, many people have considered themselves ruined, as far as their future is concerned.
However, the Scriptures have a beautiful word for you.
Redemption for the Repentant
Ephesians 1:7 tells us: “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace.” That redemption is for you when you repent, no matter what you have done, or what has happened to you.
I purposely used the noun form, instead of redeemed, though both are used in Scripture. To say one is redeemed tends to refer to the legal aspects of sin. I heartily affirm that, in Christ, our sins are forgiven, make no mistake about it. That is a glorious truth. Our ransom has been paid, and we have been made right with the Father through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on our behalf. But redemption reveals another facet to our lives.
Redemption communicates, in a sense, an ongoing state or effect. In Christ, we not only have been, but are continually being brought back to our new status in Christ. He takes our ashes, and makes them beautiful. He takes the prostitute, and makes her a pure virgin. He takes the one who feels dirty, and continually declares them white as snow. He takes Rahab the harlot, and makes her the great-great grandmother of King David. He takes David, the repentant adulterer and murderer, and still has him write psalms that we sing today. He takes the widow of Zarephath, who was preparing to die from starvation, and not only provides for her and her son, but uses her to house the prophet Elijah. He took Saul of Tarsus, the persecutor of the church, and made him a pillar of that same church. Any one of those (and many more) could have declared themselves ruined. But God had other plans.
If you are feeling like you are damaged beyond repair, ruined beyond restoration, or rejected past the point of ever being loved or accepted again, I urge you to see yourself as God sees you: as His precious treasure, redeemed, and whole.