Last week, I burned my hands badly. Like, large-mug-filled-with-boiling-water-slips-out-of-your-hands badly. When it happened, I rushed to the sink to let the cold water flow while I prayed for limited damage. When it was time to sleep, I wrapped a wet towel around my hand and waited for morning.
In the light of day, the damage was obvious, but thankfully didn’t seem to require a doctor’s visit. And as the days have gone on, it’s been interesting to watch the healing in stages. The first couple of days, my skin was bright red and painful, like a bad sunburn. Then the skin started to crack and turn brown. Today, it seems clear that this layer of damaged skin is on its way out, making way for much newer, pinker skin beneath. Adorably, there’s a heart-shaped spot of pink already where the burn has peeled. Note: I am not trying to gross you out. I actually do have a point.
Everyone gets burned in life. Some of us are burned by people, others by circumstance, still others by misfortune or illness. There’s not one of us who doesn’t sustain some damage along the way. And when we’re burned, there’s pain and there’s waiting for morning. Surely all of us have been there. What follows a burn is healing, and the process that takes can be uncomfortable, itchy, and longer than we’d wish.
Our amazing bodies want to heal and for the most part, they know how to heal, too. From the moment my skin was burned, my body kicked into gear to repair, heal, and grow new skin. Incredible. As I see the evidence of this new, undamaged skin, I feel impatient to uncover more, but it’s not quite ready yet. The damage on the surface is still apparent and in a way, it’s protecting the rebirth just underneath. Given time, the old will go and the new will take its place. This process is irritating, sometimes itchy, and distracting. In our souls and in our relationships, too, we want to rush healing. We can see the light at the end of the tunnel, and we can make out the shape of newness that is to come and we want it all, now. But that’s not how healing works. Healing requires patience.
With time, what is new and clean and clear will rise and the rest will fall away. This is true for my hands and it’s true for the damaged places in our beleaguered souls and lives, too. As it says in Romans, God works for the good in all things for those who love Him. “All things” includes pain, loss, and the times in which we are burned and damaged. By God’s grace, underneath every trial is growth, wisdom, and understanding just waiting to emerge. Thanks be to God, we can count on it. Love makes all things new.