Perhaps no war left so many veterans alive but horribly scarred as did the First World War, that war of gases and incendiaries, bayonets and machine guns, cavalry and tanks, swords and snipers, trenches and barbed wire. Rev. Edward Shillito (1872-1948) was an English Free Church pastor trying, along with his shattered nation, to comfort and cope with the wounded multitudes streaming back across the Channel. Out of that horror came this poem, “Jesus of the Scars”:
If we have never sought, we seek Thee now;
Thine eyes burn through the dark, our only stars;
We must have sight of thorn-pricks on Thy brow;
We must have Thee, O Jesus of the Scars.
The heavens frighten us; they are too calm;
In all the universe we have no place.
Our wounds are hurting us; where is the balm?
Lord Jesus, by Thy Scars, we claim Thy grace.
If, when the doors are shut, Thou drawest near,
Only reveal those hands, that side of Thine;
We know to-day what wounds are, have no fear,
Show us Thy Scars, we know the countersign.
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 speak;
And not a god has wounds, but Thou alone.
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For further reflections on the themes of the last verse, see HERE.