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We needed stitches | Church Wounds Part 3

The final Sunday at our former church, I dressed in black. I had wept in anguish each day that week, mourning what was set in motion. As I searched my closet that Sunday morning, I was purposeful in what I pulled from the hanger. I remember thinking, I’m wearing black because this feels like a funeral.  
Art by my daughter, Miss J

During that service, a leading member of the church’s council stood behind the pulpit and told us verbatim, “this wasn’t a funeral.” Those words confirmed that I would not receive the first aid care my deep, ragged wound needed. 

If you’ve ever had a skin wound, you know part of the healing process is treatment. Last time we talked about the different stages of wounds and the importance of examination. For simple stage 1-2 cuts, first aid is straightforward: wash your hands, apply gentle pressure to stop the bleeding, clean the wound, apply an antibiotic, cover the wound, and watch for signs of infection. 

For a more violent wound, however, additional care--stitches even--might be necessary.

I remember an incident I had in college while washing dishes at my parents’ home. A glass broke in the soapy dish water and I was unaware. As I swabbed the inside of the glass with the washcloth, the broken edge caught my knuckle. It was a deep cut, ragged on the edges. My dad drove me to the ER where I got six stitches on a wound less than a half-inch long. I can still see where each stitch went in, pulling together my skin.

WebMd shares information on when to get stitches:
The wound---

  • Is very deep
  • Is longer than a half-inch
  • Is too wide to push together
  • Has ragged edges
  • Contains debris
  • Soaks through a bandage
  • Bleeds after 5-10 minutes of pressure
  • Spurts blood

My recent church wound needed first aid. It soaked through bandages. It couldn’t be ignored. It needed stitches.

As I spent time learning about first aid, I started thinking of the story of The Good Samaritan as found in Luke 10:25-37. To open the story we find a lawyer questioning Jesus: “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus asks the lawyer what the law says, and the lawyer gives a correct response: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” But then the verses take a heart-turn. The lawyer exposes his heart motive as he seeks to justify himself: “And who is my neighbor?” Jesus responds with a parable. A man gets robbed. He is stripped. He is beaten. He is left for dead. A priest (a descendant of Aaron with responsibilities at the temple) comes by, sees the injured man, and goes to the other side of the road. Next, a Levite (an assistant to the priests in the temple) comes to the place of the injured man. He also moves to the other side of the road and passes by. A third man comes. A Samaritan (cultural enemies of the Jews) came to the injured man. “And when he saw him, he had compassion. He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him. And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.’” 

Jesus turns again to the lawyer and asks, “Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” To which the lawyer gives another right answer: “The one who showed him mercy.”

Jesus concludes by telling the man to go and do likewise.

It makes me wonder if the man who had all the right lip-answers ended up having the right heart posture? It also makes me wonder, do we? Do we brush off people’s suffering or attend to their wounds? Do we piously respond to pleas of help with “I will pray for someone to help” and move to the side of the road, or do we actually help? 

In our case, we felt we had to leave to find help. I’m not saying no one cared, but as a collective whole, we did not feel our former church would have been a safe place to grieve. It’s probable we wouldn’t have received stitches---I’m not sure how else to interpret those words spoken from the pulpit that day. They were not words of compassion, but of minimization. I know not everyone felt as we did. I understand that. Even so, our grief was real. Our blood was real. And we needed help. 

A tip WebMd gave on first aid is this: If blood soaks through the bandage, don’t remove it. Keep adding instead. That seemed profound as I paralleled the information with our recent wounding. Scripture says that God binds wounds. In the aftermath, we needed to constantly be immersed in scripture. We needed to be reminded of God’s goodness, over and over. We needed to be reminded we could trust His sovereignty. It wasn’t helpful to have our bandage ripped off while our wound was minimized. We needed BandAid applied on BandAid as we drove to the ER for stitches that would give our wound support and strength while it closed. 

Are you there today, a wound with heavy bleeding? Does your wound need stitches, too? If so, let’s remember together that our God binds wounds. He pays attention to the brokenhearted. Our God is aware when we are bleeding out. And our God cares.

“The eyes of the LORD are toward the righteous and his ears toward their cry. The face of the LORD is against those who do evil, to cut off the memory of them from the earth. When the righteous cry for help, the LORD hears and delivers them out of all their troubles. The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.” (Psalm 34:15-18)

“The LORD builds up Jerusalem; he gathers the outcasts of Israel. He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” (PS 147:2-3)

“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn; to grant to those who mourn in Zion---to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit; that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he may be glorified. They shall build up the ancient ruins; they shall raise up the former devastations; they shall repair the ruined cities, the devastations of many generations.” (Isaiah 61: 1-4)

“And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” (Revelation 21:3-4)


Part 3 sources:

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Image by Alanyadk from pixabay


Writer's Note: Because I anticipate this series to be emotionally taxing for me, I am not sure how long it will take for me to write and publish the pieces. I ask for your patience with the process! And as always, you're more than welcome to subscribe to my blog for notifications on newly published pieces.


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