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Question

I have been struggling with self-harming. Where is God in all this?

Answer

Thank you for sharing this situation about your self-harming and asking how God is involved in it.

The truth is that almost everyone turns to something other than God as a coping mechanism with the difficulties of life. People try to find comfort or pleasure in anything other than God. These things can be alcohol, drugs, sex, or even becoming obsessive with things like work, family, sport, hobbies etc. Self-harm is often a coping mechanism for people to distract them from other pains and difficulties they face. It can often be tied into a feeling that they deserve to be punished.

There have even been groups of people throughout history who were part of the Christian Church that would use flagellation (a form of whip to scar themselves), to keep themselves from sinning and to punish themselves when they did sin. This was because Christ was also flagellated or scourged (whipped) before being crucified. The Bible says:

So Pilate, wishing to satisfy the crowd, released for them Barabbas, and having scourged Jesus, he delivered him to be crucified. (Mark 15:15)

This was not a good thing. Jesus did not want to be scourged or flagellated. He did not want to be harmed but chose to go through it for us.

The first thing I want to encourage you is to realise that Jesus knows what it is like to have the pain of cuts and a body with scars. The Bible is the word of God and it says:

Eight days later, his disciples were inside again, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, "Peace be with you." Then he said to Thomas, "Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe." Thomas answered him, "My Lord and my God!" (John 20:26-28)

Jesus had scars on his hands and his sides. Jesus knows your pain and wants to help you through it.

God tells us in the Bible that if we have faith in Christ’s saving work on the cross that our bodies become a temple for the Holy Spirit. We are to live our lives for God. This means we should respect our bodies and look after them. The word of God says:

Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body. (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)

You are a wonderful creation of God, made in His image and with a purpose. God does not want you to self-harm.

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. (Genesis 1:27)

God does not stand back and watch and do nothing when we are struggling. The truth is that when we do things against God it is us who are turning away from him. Self-harm, or any other form of coping apart from God is when we turn away from God and find satisfaction and coping mechanisms in anything else.

Consider these words of the psalmist:

Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there! If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me. If I say, "Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light about me be night," even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is bright as the day, for darkness is as light with you. For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother's womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.
(Psalms 139:7-16)

This passage speaks of how God is always with his people, he never leaves them. Every part of our body is made by God and called wonderful. Therefore we should not harm our bodies.

God has not left you alone when you self-harm; He does not want you to self-harm. He sent his Son to be harmed for you so you can know God's comfort and guidance through life. God sent his only Son so we can know God and become his children. The word of God says:

In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. (1 John 4:9-10)

God made a way that we never have to be apart from him or alone. God can be with you in the darkest times of life and the brightest. He wants us to draw near to him and abide in him; it is a lie that God is not with you when you suffer. You need to pray to know God's peace and comfort when you feel tempted to self-harm and turn back to him and ask for his help and guidance. God does not make us sin or self-harm, that is our own choosing. The word of God says:

Let no one say when he is tempted, "I am being tempted by God," for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. (James 1:13)

In summary I hope you can see that God does not want you to harm yourself or that he does not want you to be alone in it. I hope you can find new faith to cry out to God for help through Jesus Christ. I pray that when you feel tempted to self-harm, that instead of turning to a blade, you will turn to the one who was scarred for you – Jesus Christ.

I hope this answer helps you to find peace with God through Jesus Christ. If you want to know more about what Jesus has done for you please watch the video on the main part of our site: Watch the video

I encourage you to attend a local Bible believing church and speak to the leader about your question. If you want to find a local church, our Church Finder may help you: Find a Church

Please feel free to submit a question to us or to read our answer database: Ask a Question

*All Scripture references are taken From The English Standard Version of the Holy Bible unless stated otherwise

*If anything in this answer affects you directly, then please feel free to call our confidential prayer line in the UK on 0845 4567729, where trained Christian volunteers will take your call and pray both for you and with you. If you are outside of the UK then you may submit your request for prayer on line at www.ucb.co.uk/prayerline


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