When Time Doesn’t Heal

by Kyra Daniels

At lunch in my college’s dining hall, I discussed the necessity of faith with a friend. I argued that life was difficult and that belief in the gospel was the most reasonable way to truly navigate hardship. My friend responded to that statement with the old adage, “time heals all wounds.” He claimed that a belief system was not necessarily important since time allows for people to deal with and mend from their grief. 

My friend stumped me with his counter-argument. I had never considered that perspective. At that stage, I wasn’t yet equipped with apologetics. So I shrunk back from the conversation and finished eating my salad. But if we were having this discussion today, now that I am more confident in defending the Christian faith, I would bring my friend’s attention to the inconsistency in his argument. In actuality, claiming that “time heals all wounds” is an act of faith in itself. One must believe that the progression of nature has the power to rectify life’s problems. Unbeknownst to him, my friend had a belief system. In difficult moments, he would rather exercise faith in time than in the Maker of time Himself.

American philanthropist and mother to President John F. Kennedy, Rose Kennedy, said, “It has been said that time heals all wounds. I don’t agree. The wounds remain. Time—the mind, protecting its sanity—covers them with some scar tissue, and the pain lessens. But it is never gone.” Psychologists will corroborate Mrs. Kennedy’s sentiment. Mental health professionals advise that one cannot rely on time to be a healer. In some cases, the effects of trauma may actually take deeper root within a person and worsen over the years. Furthermore, counselors claim that when there is loss, someone may never really pass through the grief stage. Instead, grief morphs; it could shift outer appearances, but the sorrow and longing for restoration may not dissipate. For instance, a mother no longer cries every day over her deceased child, but she holds onto his stuffed animal. A man going through divorce no longer drowns his pain in alcohol at the local bar, but he doesn’t know if he can trust another woman again.

When we try to stuff our skeletons under Father Time’s cloak, they will eventually peek out and invade our closets again. With a sickle in one wrinkled hand and an hourglass in the other, Father Time reminds us of our constant movement toward weakness and death. With his lead, we continue to face hardship after hardship until we reach our end. He cannot offer us life for the present nor eternal hope for the future.    

There are cases when time can be associated with healing. However, this happens because the True Healer operates through our days, weeks, and months. Time is a vehicle for the work of God. As the psalmist wrote, time rests in the Lord’s control (Psalm 31:15 ESV). He is sovereign over all and works through every circumstance to bring about His good purposes (Romans 8:28). God heals us with His constant care and comfort. Day by day, He guides us to His all-satisfying presence that mourns with us in moments of sorrow and reminds us of our salvation in Christ.

God entered history in the person of Jesus Christ. At the appointed time, Jesus accomplished His saving work so that we would be healed from sin. After He died on the cross, His time did not cease. Instead, Jesus rose from the grave and walked into eternity. He continues to reign on His heavenly throne, interceding for His people. The wounds He suffered to pay our punishment have not disappeared (John 20:24–29). They remain pierced in His glorious hands. They are eternal, forever serving as signs of His wonderful grace.  

When time disappoints, there is Someone in whom to believe. When time doesn’t heal, there is a deeper cure for your soul. Maybe you have been dealing with a hardship or grief, and you wonder how much longer will you have to deal? Perhaps you are seeking relief? Because of the saving work of Christ, joy in the midst of pain is possible. The gospel offers life for our present and eternal hope for our future. The Holy Spirit will continue to heal your brokenness until you are made whole in Christ. At Jesus’s second coming, you will join Him in the resurrection and enter His eternal kingdom. For one thousand years upon one thousand years, you will delight in God’s presence. Your scars from the past will transform into images of glory. And time after time again, your faint memories of grief will lead you to praise before Jesus’s throne.        

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