All that is said here grows out of a tragic misconception of time. It is the strangely irrational notion that there is something in the very flow of time that will inevitably cure all ills. Actually, time is neutral. It can be used either destructively or constructively.
– Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Time won’t heal your wounds.
Isn’t it obvious when you think about it?
I have said, and I’m sure that many of you have as well, “Time heals all wounds”. But when you really think about this, it’s kind of silly. How could time possibly heal wounds? Time is merely an impersonal passing of consecutive moments. Time has no interest in your wounds nor your healing. In fact, time has no interest in anything at all! It is utterly impersonal!
Addressing a group of Christian and Jewish clergymen, Dr. King makes the statement above. After being thrown in jail for “parading without a permit” in Birmingham, Alabama, Dr. King writes, what I consider to be, his Magna Carta, “A Letter from a Birmingham Jail”. Full of such great one-liners such as:
We must come to see that human progress never rolls in on wheels of inevitability.
Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.
In this letter from a Birmingham jail cell, Dr. King implores the local clergymen to awaken from their slumber! They might have said things like “Just give it time”, “It will all work out”, and “Time heals all wounds”.
But Dr. King stirs them up and hopefully stirs us up!
It is, in fact, a strangely irrational idea that time will inevitably cure all ills.
Anyone who has ever struggled with unforgiveness and bitterness can testify to this. As time passes by, sometimes that can make things worse. As unrepentance abides… as pride withstands… as mockery intensifies…
Dr. King says “time is neutral,” but the New Testament and the laws of science seem to indicate that it could be worse than neutral—actually slanted toward evil.
Time is Slanted Toward Evil
Paul says in Ephesians 5.16-17,
15 Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise,
16 making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.
Here Paul tells us that time is not neutral, but that it must be used with wisdom. Proverbs affirms this over and over as it describes “the sluggard” and “the fool”.
In science, the law of entropy asserts that things naturally tend to move from order to disorder. By way of analogy, we can imagine how time will naturally lead to things getting worse rather than better.
Doesn’t this match reality much better than “time heals all wounds”? Doesn’t this help us understand better why people live their whole lives in bondage to tragedies and afflictions from their youth? Doesn’t this illuminate why bitterness is such an ugly monster to wrestle with?
How Will You Use Your Time?
Instead of passively relying on Time to cure our wounds, we must take a more active approach.
The truth is that our wounds are only healed by Christ.
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.
Time doesn’t heal wounds. Christ does.
We seek healing in his grace.
We seek shelter in his refuge.
We seek power in his presence.
So, how do we use time wisely?
We use our time to seek Christ.
Because outside of seeking the grace of God in Christ, Time won’t heal your wounds.