Last August Elsie and I went on vacation to Charleston, SC. We saw some old friends, toured the historical sites, explored a working plantation, and enjoyed our time there immensely except . . . the day before we were to depart, I accidentally spilled a full cup of scalding hot coffee on my right foot. The coffee was hot enough to produce second degree burns. Burns like those don’t heal quickly because of the thinness of the skin on top of the foot and the difficulty of preventing infection. Here we are nearly three months since the accident and my foot is just about healed! I can finally wear real shoes instead of slippers.
Have you ever experienced a slow healing wound? Perhaps it was physical like mine. Those wounds are painful but eventually heal. Perhaps it was a relational wound from another person. The wound has driven a wedge between the two of you. They say that “time heals all wounds” but in my experience it does not. Time may only turn a relational wound into bitterness.
One of the most profound of the proverbs is Proverbs 27:6, “Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but deceitful are the kisses of an enemy.” True friends will wound you when you are in the wrong by telling you the truth and calling you to repentance. They will risk your wrath or rejection to be honest with you. Enemies, on the other hand, kiss up to you even when you’re wrong. They tell you how great you are or how right you are. They are lying to you with their kisses because they are NOT your friends at all. They are your enemies masquerading as friends who care. They don’t.
How do we heal from painful relational wounds? Run to the cross! Run to the One who was wounded in our place and ask for His healing. Isaiah 53:5 tells us “ . . . And by His wounds we are healed.” Behind every wound is a sovereign, omniscient God who is working ALL things together for our good, even painful wounds (cf. Romans 8:28). Listen to the words of Hosea 6:1, “Come, let’s return to the Lord. For He has torn us, but He will heal us; He has wounded us, but He will bandage us.”
No one wants wounds but if they drive us to the cross for our healing and then to our offender to make it right (if possible), wounds can help us grow in Christ. Just know that not every relational wound will result in reconciliation. Reconciliation requires both parties to agree to restore the relationship. The wound can be healed but the relationship may not be reconciled.