God in the Wounds

woman in pain

It’s not so difficult to talk about God being present when someone is healed. After all, God’s the one who fixes our brokenness, right? This is the god we especially like—the one who doesn’t allow the discomfort to continue, or who prevents the accident from happening—the one who makes things new.

But what about the wounds that don’t heal, not really? What do we do with those? How do we think about a god who does not fix us? How do we relate to such a god as that?

How do we relate to God when people we love continue in their addictions, their destructive relationships, their lingering illnesses? Of course we know that God doesn’t force people to get help or to change their ways. Does that mean that God cannot be present to people who are stuck?

What does God do with people who can’t seem to make the steps necessary to get help and healing? If we really can find God in all things, does that mean that we can find God in the life of someone who is bitter and unyielding?

Could it be that God is present, not only in the healing, but in the wounds? When we encounter someone who is angry and stuck in bad patterns, should we still expect to experience God somehow, right there?

Consider this: What if God is present to that bitter, stuck person through our stubborn love toward her? What if that person is waiting for someone like you or me to stick around long enough to identify and name God’s features that show up in her face, contorted as it may be by tragedy and inner turmoil?

I don’t believe that God gives us the wounds, but I do believe that God is with us in our woundedness. Sometimes God’s presence is disguised in the body of another person. I hope to be brave enough and generous enough for God to use my very human self in just this way.

About Vinita Hampton Wright 79 Articles
Vinita Hampton Wright has served as senior editor at Loyola Press for 16 years and recently became managing editor of the trade books department. She has written various fiction and non-fiction books, including the novel Dwelling Places with HarperOne, Days of Deepening Friendship and The Art of Spiritual Writing for Loyola Press, and most recently, The St. Teresa of Avila Prayer Book for Paraclete Press. Vinita is a student and practitioner of Ignatian spirituality, and from 2009 to 2015 she blogged at Days of Deepening Friendship. For the past few years, she has co-led small groups through the 19th Annotation of the Spiritual Exercises. She lives in Chicago with her husband, three cats, and a dog. In her “spare” time these days, she is working on her next novel.

12 Comments on God in the Wounds

  1. The wounds of physical & sexual violence allowed me to be a conduit of healing and hope to incarcerated women. When I shared my story, they could begin to see alternatives to woundedness being a barrier to stability and happiness. I thank God frequently for giving me that common ground on which to meet those women. Is God in the woundedness? You bet!

    • Mary, thank you so much for allowing grace to flow through your life, even those dark and ugly aspects of it. I believe that your wounds are sacred in Heaven’s sight.

  2. Amen to that! God was with me in the wounds of child sexual abuse in a spiritual lady who showed me love and prayed for me. I am still her friend 50 years later as I visit her with my husband and children. But also recently God has been and is in the wounds of rejection and hurt from my own church family which had become a fractured church, yet God ministered to me in the loneliness and suffering and has given me the strength to forgive and know healing. I now am able to ‘boast’im Jesus who has healed me and encourage others to draw close to Him.

    • Thank you, Heather, for continuing in faith, especially when there are troubles in your church family. So sorry to hear that. Drawing closer to God is the best thing you can do, I believe.

  3. Thank you Vinita for this article and your thoughts that spoke to me. I have a family situation that has been going on for some time and I have been so torn as to how to keep responding when one does not want to take the steps that need to turn things around. This reminds me that God does not give up on us and I need to not give up on my sister either. Pentecost Blessings!

    • Bless you, Joyce. I think most of us have situations that don’t resolve quickly or easily. May you be stubborn in your hope.

  4. My husband has been chronically ill for 10 years now with multiple conditions. I have only recently found out that the company he had formed was never properly closed down and there had been an ongoing investigation over the last 10 years.
    He os on 22tbls day.Within the last months finally resorting to antidepressants.
    I have attempted in all this to be his wife give him support. I wonder now have I done the right thing. He has been bitter about so much.
    Was I supporting him when it may have been better to allow him to come to the realisation that he really might have been better facing the reality of his life.
    How are we ever to know the answer.?
    What I have done is to love him in all the mess. It often teaches nightmare levels.
    One tries to rest.But I also think that it reaches nightmare levels and only a miracle will help. Then I suspect the miracle happens every day.We get up the next day offer god the day and cry Help. Help comes in little moments of grace
    One clings on to these
    You look at the msn who had been your husband and the father of your 5children you know that he is unrecognizable to you and you just pray ? that somehow God will teach down and heal the whole mess because neither of you can.

    • Norah, you live in the midst of some of our most difficult questions. I’m so sorry about the pain and relentlessness of your situation. I do believe God is with you and that divine love goes beyond our success at fixing things or getting better. Please stay honest in your prayers. Cry and cry out–put your whole self and your family’s self before God. That’s all you can do, I think, but it does mean something. Thanks for telling your story.

  5. What I have the most difficult time with is illness. Somehow, it’s easier for me to understand the evil that we cause to ourselves and others (after all, we are sinners and experiment the same temptations, and many times we succumb to them). But when it comes to health problems, it looks as if something was not quite well done in the natural order. Still, when we read the Gospel, almost always when a disease appears is in the context of a miraculous sanation, but that situation is quite rare nowadays.
    In my case, I have chronic migraines and lots of muscular aches which are not serious (there are many worse things for sure), but a real annoyance when working and trying to be somehow productive. And so far I haven’t been able (though I’ve tried many times) to see how can be God present in this. In fact, it’s even an obstacle to prayer as I see it… It’s not easy (nor possible at all) to contemplate when you have a headache!

    Many thanks for your article, I think it’s pointing me in the right direction, though I have still work to do!

  6. I have four children, one who experiences down syndrome and multiple medical issues; in the last 10 years my husband has been diagnosed with both a brain & pituitary gland tumors.;I have an incurable rheumatic disease and struggle with orthostatic intolerance.

    With a resounding “YES” I say that God is in the middle of suffering; he is present in our wounds.

    After my daughter was born she nearly died. She required heart surgery at three months. She has a feeding tube and has struggled her whole life to find a relationship with food and oral eating. Yet in the middle of my brokenness over her life’s challenges God always showed up. When she was a fragile infant I began “looking for God” in every situation. I’m not sure how that started………it must have been something HE laid on my heart. It was a tool at the time. It has become a lifeline to peace, an ability to rest in HIM regardless of what is transpiring in our lives, and a road to greater relationships with HIM.

    If we allow HIM access to our pain HE can massage it and pour HIS peace like a salve over what hurts. Our struggle is no surprise to HIM. He has planned it for our welfare and not our calamity; to give us a future and a HOPE.(Jeremiah 29:11)

    I realized after studying the Book of Romans that everything that comes into my life is filtered by HIS hands of love. When my daughter was born, this truth was the plumbline for accepting what had been entrusted to us. Nothing is accidental. Nothing is arbitrary. God is the author of all.

    I have clung to these truths and they are LIFE. God is right in the middle of pain with us, drawing us to HIMSELF if we will bow the knee of our heart and seek HIM.I give HIM all the praise for the difficulties HE has allowed in our lives. I am a different wife, mother & friend because of these challenges. In fact, I recently have begun ministering to mothers with a child experiencing disability through our church. I could never have been able to have a heart connection with these women had my own life not been challenged in the ways it is. HE is able to bring good out of what we see as bad or unwanted. HE brings glory to HIMSELF by our willingness to trust HIM regardless of what our lives look like on the outside. HE is to be praise.

  7. I am a fellow of the Alcoholics Anonymous. One saying ist that “whom god loves he makes an alcoholic”. So yes, there is god in the wounds. And I am witness to the healing god does. *Sven

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