DEVOTIONAL GUIDE: We can be wounded healers

God's power is perfected in our weakness.

Rev. Josiah Hoagland
Park Rapids Enterprise file photo

In 2 Corinthians 12:8-9 the apostle Paul writes, “Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”

It can be paralyzing to serve in the church or in the world after suffering wounds and losses – whether they were your own fault, the fault of someone else or just the benign reality of living in an imperfect world.

After experiencing a wound, whether it is physical, spiritual, or emotional, we often feel inadequate and unprepared to offer anything to those around us. The late Henri Nouwen, a Catholic priest, chaplain, author and Harvard professor, wrote a book titled “The Wounded Healer,” where he addresses this reality.

Nouwen writes, “Nobody escapes being wounded. We are all wounded people, whether physically, emotionally, mentally or spiritually. The main question is not, ‘How can we hide our wounds?’ so we don’t have to be embarrassed, but ‘How can we put our woundedness in the service of others?’

“When our wounds cease to be a source of shame, and become a source of healing, we have become wounded healers.”


Just as Paul wrote about God’s grace being made perfect in weakness, one of the greatest sources of strength in service are the wounds you take into your ministry, service and calling. Your wounds lose their power to define your identity when they are exposed and put into the service of others.

When someone is trapped in addiction, one of their greatest liberators is to admit their own powerlessness to control their desires. By admitting their weakness, they can then allow their wound to work for the good of others.

Many who have been trapped in addiction find freedom in walking the journey toward freedom with others who are struggling. The very thing that had been a source of shame and fear is now being used in the healing process for both the healer and the healing.

As a chaplain at the hospital, one of the greatest privileges I have is to put my woundedness to work for the good of others – to experience the life-giving work of walking with those who are suffering while also remembering that my sufferings have prepared me to offer compassion to others.

What weaknesses can you put in service to others?

Rev. Josiah Hoagland serves as mission director at CHI-St. Joseph's Health in Park Rapids.
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