He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. Psalm 147:3 (NIV)
Keeping in the “vein” of comparing physical wound healing to spiritual I will combine the last two phases into one topic. These phases do overlap in the real world anyway. NOTE: Caring for the wound is important, cleaning and protecting it will speed healing and reduce infection and reinjury. (See Wounds) and (Inflammation)
In studying healing of wounds you will see the term collagen throughout the entire process. From clotting to scar formation collagen keeps showing up. Collagen is a protein. It forms connective tissue and in healing it is the groundwork for cells to move along as the wound closes and new skin is laid down. The composition of collagen speaks to this whole idea of healing. It is a three-strand helix, two similar in composition and the third one slightly different. What a great picture of the Trinity, at least for me, the Father and the Son very similar and the Holy Spirit similar but to me He always seems something just a little unique. Wounds must have collagen to heal properly as it lays down fibers to strengthen the clot and provides for the wounds ability to pull itself closed and for the cells to attach to in forming skin. These fibers form along stress or tension lines that are natural in our skin. (I thought those terms were interesting in the light of spiritual healing. Also the term collagen comes from the glue making process of old; this is when they boiled animal parts it make glue.)
In the proliferation stage when cells are being made to fill in the wound it seems they come from the edges of the wound and are made by hair follicles, nerves, and sweat glands. This is interesting because in a scar there are no hair follicles, nerves, and sweat glands, which does present challenges for the body in terms of temperature control, etc. Spiritually, I think that everything that is needed to heal a wound may not be present after the problem is closed. In this phase the wound contracts the edges closing the injured area. If this contracting continues to long a really ugly scar happens and possibly loss of function. This contraction does not necessarily happen uniformly but that just allows for organization of cells on the collagen. In the spirit if we allow ourselves to “close up” to much it is not good, so if God is not in the foundation of this healing it could have to be “cut out” and allowed to heal again.
As the wound “matures” the collagen rearranges and cross-links. This phase will vary in time depending on the initial wound and the care it received, and it may never be as strong as it was originally. When a spiritual wound is “maturing” people may think all kinds of things like “why aren’t you back to full speed” or “you’re a little touchy” but they are not allowing you to heal at your own rate. It is true that you will have to use the injured area but it may never be the same.
During the maturation phase an interesting term showed up it is “apoptosis.” This is when the body is using a controlled process to kill cells that are no longer needed and it is to the body’s advantage to do this. What is needed during a healing process is not always needed after the healing.
PIC: By Layne Harris.Helsmack at en.wikipedia [Public domain], from Wikimedia Commons