Since the beginning of the year, I've been preaching a series called "The Curse and the Cure" on the brokenness that resulted from the fall and the hope that is ours in Christ. No subject has been tougher to deal with than abuse, but we believe is important to do so -- and we had Psalm 10 to guide us. [You should check it out.]
The adversary will do anything to diminish, destroy, undermine, or kill the work of God in you, but Jesus has come to give us vitality and life (John 10:10). Since I cannot be the healer of your wounds, and I'm not equipped to get inside of your pain, all I can do is give the counsel of God and encourage you to look to him.
On Sunday, I focused on just two points:
1] To the church who loves and serves the victims of abuse: Everything does not happen for a reason. I know you've heard "everything happens for a reason" countless times in your life. It's an engrained response that seems to roll off our tongues without much thought at all. But listen what that sounds like to those who hear it: "You were abused for a reason." Often, this statement gets interpreted one of two ways: 1) It's my fault this happened, or 2) It's God's fault this happened. The first response cuts us off at the knees and cripples us for life. The second response cuts us off from God who redeems, restores, and heals. Both responses lead to isolation.
While I do not believe everything happens for a reason, I do believe everything that happens can ultimately be redeemed by God -- and even used for a purpose (Romans 8:28). This means you can find healing, your story can be redeemed, and as you are restored in Christ, your life can give others hope. Henry Nouwen, author of "The Wounded Healer", said, "The great illusion of leadership is to think that man can be led out of the desert by someone who's never been there." Ever tried following someone who's never been where they are going? Those who have been deeply wounded are often the only ones able to walk with those who have been deeply wounded.
I believe there is a God, and I believe He is good. There is no painful experience of this life out of reach of His love and mercy.
2] To those who have been abused, manipulated, degraded, and oppressed: Run to God! You may be tempted to run to other things. You may be tempted to run and hide. You may be tempted to run away from God.
There once was a young boy, not much older than 6 or 7, who when coming home from school knew there would be a tirade of hate awaiting him when he got off the school bus. If the weather cooperated, he would stay outside as long as possible until either hunger or darkness drove him inside. His mother worked long hours, and his step-dad never worked, so the mom was seldom home and the step-dad almost always was. When he did come inside, he'd try to fly under the radar to spare himself from the verbal onslaught he feared was coming. He'd shut the door lightly, carefully walking through the house as he peeked around the corner to see if the old man was asleep on the couch. If he was, he didn't want to awaken the old bear. Most days, he'd manage to lay low and avoid him, but occasionally he'd receive the full force of the old bear's roar. "Did I ever tell you how much I hate you?" the old man would scream, but the little boy would retreat to his bedroom where he'd get on his knees and call out to God.
I wonder why this young boy turned to God when so many others would have run away from Him? It was probably because someone told him he could. Something was planted within that little boy to turn to his Father in heaven for acceptance and purpose.
So now I'm telling you. You can run to God. And when you do it, He will hear you. "You hear the heart of the abused and fatherless, and you encourage them and listen to their cry. You defend the fatherless and the oppressed and ensure that those who terrify their victims will torment no more" (Psalm 10).
Father will find away to redeem your story. I'm not promising you everything will get "fixed" or that there won't be scars (although one Day, that will be true). But I do promise that God can rebuild what was torn down. The hatred can be replaced with His love. Your pain does not have to be chronic. Your repeating cycles of history are no longer your destiny. You do not have to spend your days self-loathing as the identity of Jesus becomes yours: an adopted, loved child of God.
There is hope for the victims of abuse.
Run. To God.