The Walking Wounded
The Four Stages of Identity
In every great war movie there is always that one guy, you know the hero who gets pierced by arrows, snaps them off and goes on to win the day. Maybe your favorite movie has different circumstances, but the hero always gets multiple wounds, shrugs them off, and ultimately wins. This makes for great cinema, but in real life, that hero would be having some lousy days.
For you see, wounds hurt – some wounds hurt for a long time. While it is possible to shrug them off and “soldier-on” for a while, it starts to grind you down. How much better it is to let God heal those wounds into scars.
Who are the “Walking Wounded”? They are, I believe, many of us, or at least most if not all of us have spent time as one of them. The Walking Wounded are found in every church. Sometimes you will find them anywhere but at a church, depending on how deep the wounds are and what/who caused them.
Go once again to the mental image of a battle. As one wave of fighting ends and the march to the next battle begins, the Walking Wounded might be the soldier having a hard time lifting his shield, an arrow struck him there in his shoulder. Even though the battle medic pulled the arrow out and bandaged the wound, he is still slowly bleeding, still in pain, still hindered in his movements. This Wounded Warrior doesn’t give up though; he picks up his supplies, winces at the pain and marches on. Sounds heroic doesn’t it? To some extent it is, but do you think the Walking Wounded is experiencing much joy in his life right now? Does he know the peace of God, is he able to truly say “It is well with my soul?”
Isaiah 53:4-5 “Surely He took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered Him punished by God, stricken by Him and afflicted. But He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by His wounds we are healed.”
The Walking Wounded are still holding onto their wounds. They might be bandaging them with “I should” or “I will try harder”, but they are still trying to deal with their wounds themselves. The problem is nobody can heal their own wounds, it is simply impossible. You might have heard the saying “Time heals all wounds”, but I believe that is a lie from hell. If you give a wound on your physical body enough time untreated, it may scab over and feel a little better at first; until you realize an infection has started in it and is now rampaging through your body. Time can help lessen pain, but time is not a healer.
To say that “Time heals all wounds,” to someone suffering with a wound can, in fact, inflict an additional wound. Now the wounded person has something new to worry about, “Has it been long enough, yet?” “Why does it feel like the pain is getting worse?” The end result being that our intention of helping, filtered through a trite saying, can have the effect of leaving the wounded person worse off than before. Time, in and of itself, heals nothing!
Another approach for the Walking Wounded can be the “Busy” approach. “If I just stay busy enough, doing ‘Church’ things, maybe nobody will notice the wounds.” The sad thing is, that may appear to work for a while. Other people don’t notice the wound, but it is still there, still draining strength and life out of the wounded person and if this condition is left unchecked for enough time, spiritual infection will show up. We can’t be busy enough to stop being wounded. If you had a childhood like mine, it probably involved plenty of bandages. The worst places to get cut were on joints. They moved so much that they were very slow to heal. So being busy can be the same for our spiritual wounds, it doesn’t help the wounds to heal.
Yet another approach to dealing with wounds is the “Geographic” or “Environmental” fix. The Walking Wounded person changes something or everything about their location (city, state etc.) or about their environment (church, job, circle of friends etc.) thinking that this will finally fix the problem. It doesn’t work though, because when you are the wounded one, your wounds go where you go. You have the same set of problems, just with different faces attached.
God can use any or all of these approaches to ultimately bring healing to one of these Walking Wounded. However, none of these approaches are the primary way of healing. The danger in these is that they allow “infection” the chance to seep into our lives.
What does “infection” look like for the Walking Wounded? It takes many forms, but all of them are slow erosion of spiritual health. Just as an infection in the physical body slowly erodes endurance, overall health, and sense of well-being; a spiritual infection does the same thing to our spiritual well-being. The wounded person in the beginning stages of a spiritual infection will usually start to withdraw, they might start to harbor resentments, either to the ones that they perceive as having caused the wound, or resent the “perfect people” that don’t appear to have their own wounds. They will frequently experience either a reduction in time spent praying and studying God’s Word, or an increase in frustration as it feels like God is silent.
The Walking Wounded are still in need of other Christians to come along side of them, to encourage them, to share honestly with them. If the wounded walks alone long enough giving infection enough time or space, then they are in grave danger of becoming one of the POWs or the MIA’s.
I know looking at these first 3 categories – The Prisoner, The POWs and the MIAs, and the Walking Wounded – can paint a dark picture. But do not despair; in the next section we will look at The Overcomers and in the final part, we will review some of what the Bible has to say about how to overcome.
Psalm 107:17-22 “Some became fools through their rebellious ways and suffered affliction because of their iniquities. They loathed all food and drew near the gates of death. Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and He saved them from their distress. He sent out His word and healed them; he rescued them from the grave. Let them give thanks to the Lord for His unfailing love and His wonderful deeds for mankind. Let them sacrifice thank offerings and tell of His works with songs of joy.”