Thursday, June 25, 2009

The Wounded Healer

Written by Santhi Mondithoka
(Academic Dean of HITHA – Hyderabad Institute of Theology and Apologetics, lives with her Husband Sudhakar and Son Shamuel in Hyderabad)

Introduction: “ . . . and by his wounds we are healed” says, Isaiah (53: 4). This is referring to Jesus Christ as ‘God’s wounded healer’. There is no one else in human history and in the world of religions that experienced deeper wounds or greater suffering than our Lord Jesus Christ. The books of Isaiah and Hebrews give us glimpses of Jesus Christ as the ‘suffering Servant-Savior’. The wounds of Jesus Christ are God’s answer to the problem of human sin – alienation, suffering, and death and this sets apart both Christ and Christianity from all other gods and religions. The English Poet Edward Shillito wrote,

“The other gods were strong;
but thou wast weak;
They rode, but thou
didst stumble to a throne;
But to our wounds
only God’s wounds can speak,
And not a god has
wounds, but Thou alone”

The woundedness of Jesus Christ is His uniqueness. The concept of a Crucified Christ (wounded Messiah) was and is a stumbling block to the Jews, foolishness to the Greeks (1 Cor. 1: 23), and may be a contradiction to the Romans. Knowing not what was awaiting me, I preached on the woundedness of Jesus Christ in a Good Friday Service in 2007 and shared with the congregation that out of the 330 million gods and goddesses of India, no god has wounds, because no one suffered and died for humans and that only Christ’s wounds can speak to our wounds. Exactly two weeks after that, I found myself in a Cancer Hospital with a big bleeding wound (because of the surgery) that came to me in a sudden and a surprising or even a shocking manner. When I came out of the influence of anesthesia, the first thought that occurred to my mind was this: “God’s wounds are an answer to our/my wounds.” I came face to face with the many troubling questions about human suffering and found the answers in Jesus, the wounded healer and it is to some of those questions that we will now turn.

Why do bad things happen to Good (God’s) People? When Christians and especially those that serve Him in some full-time capacity face such life-threatening situations many questions come up in our minds: Why do bad things happen to God’s people? Where is God when it hurts? How can a good and omnipotent God allow His people to suffer so much? What about the promises of God’s protection, good health, and long life to His people? What is God doing in the middle of our sufferings? Ironically, just a week before my surgery, I preached on Psalm 91 where it says, “No disease/disaster will come near your tent.” As I was struggling with these questions, the Word of God and the indwelling Spirit of God came to my rescue and gave me insights into the sovereignty of God and human suffering and I was able to understand my suffering from a broader biblical perspective and respond to it in a Christian way. When things went wrong and I found myself in the middle of intense suffering and pain, it was right (biblical) thinking about God, His character, His ways, and His purposes that gave me a clue and brought comfort into my life. The understanding that there was a divine-sovereign purpose behind and in my suffering enabled me to handle my suffering.

Right Thinking When Things Go Wrong in Life: When things go wrong in life, we need to have the right (biblical) thinking about God and His ways. Job was a good theologian (unlike his wife and friends that came to comfort him, but ended up hurting him) and had right thinking about God, His ways, and purposes in the middle of his intense suffering and God himself vindicated him (1: 22; 2: 10; 42: 7). In Psalm 119: 75, David, a man who had gone through much suffering says, “I know, O LORD, that your laws are righteous, and in faithfulness you have afflicted me.” People like David, Joseph, Jeremiah, and Job experienced great suffering in their lives and yet their knowledge of God and their relationship with Him enabled them to acknowledge God’s goodness in the midst of all their suffering. The biblical truth is that God is good intrinsically and all the time. Even when He allows us to go through intense pain and suffering, He does so with some good that He can and wants to bring out. He is all knowing, all good, all powerful and sovereign and so nothing happens to us unless He knowingly allows it with a good purpose. It is this truth that I understood from the Scriptures, experienced in my life, and taught to others, that enabled me to trust God and entrust myself to Him and drink my cup of suffering with courage and confidence.

Sovereignty of God in the Suffering of Human Beings: Cancer (and any life-threatening disease for that matter) brings one face to face with the sovereignty of God. Cancer treatment is protracted and extremely painful (involving chemotherapy, radiotherapy, hormonal therapy, and many other things) both physically and emotionally. One looses much and one gets totally drained out in every way. While the treatment was on, I experienced the following devastating changes:
1. I lost my hair (including my eye-brows and lashes),
2. I lost my appetite and even taste on my tongue,
3. I lost my ability to sleep, and
4. I lost my active life (ability to work) and ministry,

One day, when I looked at myself in the mirror, I could not believe that I looked so horrible with marks all over my body (because of the surgery and chemos), with darkened skin, with no hair (my distinctively feminine feature), . God the Holy Spirit reminded me of the fact that my wounds and marks are only temporary (I will one day have a glorified body free from all deficiencies and deformities), but His marks are permanent (John 20: 24-29; Rev. 5: 6). This realization that Christ suffered for my sake (to give me new life both in this world and in the world to come) filled my heart with gratitude and thanksgiving and changed my attitude towards my suffering and the marks it left.

I realized that when we say that God is sovereign we mean that ‘nothing happens to us unless He either plans it or permits it’, because He is sovereign and He reigns. He is in control of the universe and our lives in it. Nothing can thwart His plans. Nothing can separate us from the love of God. I realized that when God, in His sovereignty, allows suffering in our lives, it advances God’s kingdom in us and through us. Paul says that his chains advanced the Kingdom of God (Philippians 1: 12) and that God comforts us in our troubles, so that we might comfort others that might be in any trouble with the comfort that we ourselves have received from God (2 Cor. 1: 4). The wounded Savior who suffered for us and suffers with us, ministers to us when we go through suffering, and makes us wounded healers like He Himself is. We can meaningfully enter into the suffering of others, identify with them, and minister to them in this suffering world. This is what I have experienced during the past two years, as I have been going through my own suffering. I have been able to sensitively minister God’s grace to many suffering saints and they have been able to receive comfort, because they knew that I could understand their suffering. In a way, I have become more sensitive to the suffering of others and thus have been transformed a bit more into the likeness of Jesus Christ. This is yet another blessing in disguise. All this has helped me to understand that ‘suffering is inevitable in fulfilling God’s plans in our lives’.

Suffering (Passion) – A Means to Fulfill Our Mission: Our Lord Jesus fulfilled His Mission in this world through His Passion. Christ who carried His cross invites His disciples to carry their cross and follow Him. Therefore, like Jesus, all His disciples throughout the history experienced their share of suffering in fulfilling God’s mission. We know from the Scriptures that each of us is brought into this world with a specific mission/purpose. In order to fulfill God’s plan and purpose, we need to embrace our cross or passion by the enabling grace of God who bears our burdens daily (Psalm 68: 19) and who is distressed in all our distresses and carries us and redeems us (Isaiah 63: 9). Whatever we go through in our lives, our God has already experienced it all for us and in our suffering He is with us as our Immanuel and Ebenezer. He grace is sufficient and His love endures forever.

Conclusion: I have come to know all the above truths experientially during the past two years. All the two-year review tests showed normal values and this confirmed to me that His work of healing is taking place in my body and that His plans and purposes for me will be accomplished. I am able to serve Him once again by way of teaching Biblical Greek and other subjects. He has been with us as we have passed through the valley of the shadow of death and His grace continues to sustain us. All of us have our own wounds of different kinds – physical, emotional, psychological, and spiritual. It is a suffering and hurting world. If we cultivate the biblical attitude towards our wounds, then we can, like our Lord Jesus Christ, become wounded healers and thus fulfill God’s purposes or mission through our passion. May the Lord help us to be wounded healers in our time and to the present wounded and hurting generation of people among whom He has placed us to be His representatives and agents of His grace.
The nails in your handsThe nail in your feet, they tell me how much you love meThe thorns in your brow, they tell me how, you bore so much pain to love me.And when the heavens pass away, all your scars will still remain, and forever they will say, how much you love me.Forever my love, Forever my heartForever my life, it's yours, it's yours.


  1. dear sister,
    I just have read your 'the wounded healer'. It is really great and full of life.

    You have touched the nerve point of the issue. Right(biblical) thinking about God and His ways is vital to anyone who passes through the furnace. When will our so called preachers/pastors who always proclaim prosperity, health and material blessings, know this truth?

    Can i translate this article into telugu and publish in our church magazine?

  2. Dear Brother Suresh Babu,
    Thanks for reading the article and for posting your comment-feedback. I am encouraged by what you have said. We will be happy if you could translate and publish this important article. But please let us know what Church it is and also send us a copy of the translated article.
    Yes, the prosperity - health and wealth preachers should know the whole counsel of God. The Lord bless you.
    In the Lord,
    Santhi Mondithoka

  3. dear sister, thank u very much for permitting to translate your article in our magazine. Its name is manchi snehithudu, published by Love in Action Fellowship Ministries,Nuzvid, Krishna dt.

    I'll send you the magazine and also the article translated.

    thanks once again.


  4. Dear akka,
    Thank you very much for sharing your personal journey in struggle and suffering. I am going through so painful landscpe in my life. your post helped me to look at the wounds of jesus which shows His personal deep love for me

    1. Hope all is well with you dear Mani. We are sorry (akka too did not see this note by you) that we could not respond at that time. We are glad to note that this article was helpful to you.

  5. Hi Suresh,
    I hope you translated the message and printed in the Telugu Magazine. We know bro. Bandi Isaac and their son-in-law and daughter who are in Bangalore. Please do send me that magazine.
    God bless you all and your work there.