Wounded Healers

“But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed.”

(Isaiah 53:5)

One of my favorite books of all time is “The Wounded Healer” by Henri Nouwen.  Towards the end of the book Nouwen recounts an old legend from the Jewish Talmud which asks the question, “How will the Messiah come?  How will we know Him when He appears?” Here is the story:

Rabbi Yoshua ben Levi came upon Elijah the prophet while he was standing at the  entrance of Rabbi Simeron ben Yohai’s cave…He asked Elijah, “When will the Messiah come?” Elijah replied,

“Go and ask him yourself.”

“Where is he?”

“Sitting at the gates of the city.”

“How shall I know him?”

“He is sitting among the poor covered with wounds.  The others unbind all their wounds at the same time and then bind them up again.  But he unbinds one at a time and binds it up again, saying to himself, ‘Perhaps I shall be needed: if so I must always be ready so as not to delay for a moment.’”

This is the image of one whose concern for others so vastly exceeds concern for self.  His mindset is “perhaps I shall be needed” so I mustn’t be so introspective & self-gazing that I fail to see the needs around me.  He understands that his wounds do not disqualify him as a healer. In fact, his wounds make him imminently qualified to heal others…”by his wounds we are healed.”  

This verse increases my love and desire to worship my Savior.  I’m so grateful for his self-sacrificing ways…eternally grateful!

This verse is also not without application for the disciple.  We need to imitate the one whose mind was always set on serving others before himself.  We need a “perhaps I shall be needed” mindset…so that we have our eyes open continually to the needs around us.  We must not be afraid to step into the pain of another even though we bear our own wounds. If we wait until we are perfectly healed…we will be waiting a long time and will miss out on so many opportunities to introduce folks to the Wounded Healer…Jesus. And that’s not an opportunity worth missing!