SERENDIPITY FOR SATURDAY

MAKE HURT TEMPORARY, KEEP JOY FOREVER

My heart and mind filled with compassion, questions, and disgust as I read about this struggle. But that is what life offers us somethings in order to learn more about how God deals with things. It may not be a world you are familiar with, but it is out there. And we cannot help those who need rescuing if we ignore them because theirs is not a pretty story. Read this with compassion.

Jane’s father was a violent alcoholic. One night, in a drunken rage, he raped her mother. When he found she was pregnant, he beat her and threw her down a flight of stairs, attempting to end the pregnancy.

After Jane (not her real name) was born, she became a living reminder to her mother of her alcoholic father’s abuse. Jane lived in constant fear of her mother’s tongue-lashings, and beatings were common. But the abuse didn’t stop there.

When Jane was just three, an uncle, a great-aunt, a cousin, and even a man who made friends with her in the school park sexually abused her. When she was seven, her mother married a pedophile. Over the next five years, Jane suffered raped hundreds of times in what should have been her bed’s safety. She learned to dissociate, to disconnect from herself. It was the only way she could cope.

Jane tried to go on and leave it all behind. But years later, married and with her children, it overwhelmed her. She couldn’t sleep because of flashbacks. Vivid memories crashed in without warning. Any loud noise sent terror flowing through her. She felt hollow inside.

Jane asked some hard questions along the way. Why did God let this happen? Why didn’t He stop it when she begged for protection? Would she ever be able to live a normal life without the flashbacks and terror? “I was angry and depressed. Then I became suicidal,” she admitted. “I realized if I wanted to live to see my children grow up, I needed help.” That admission started her on a long road to healing.

So she sought out a Christian counselor to help her. During one session, she asked what she thought the word “protection” meant. She told him: being kept from harm and not having her worth as a person shattered from the earliest moments of her existence. The counselor told her to try looking at protection through God’s eyes. “God doesn’t protect us by shielding us from pain,” he said. “He protects by keeping the pain from destroying us. And because of His sovereignty, He takes the worst things and eventually uses them for good.”

In healing, she had to do two things. First, she had to teach herself to think differently. She kept track of negative thoughts and worked to replace them with positive ones. She tried to follow Romans 12:2: “. . . let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think (NLT).” The second step was much harder. She needed to forgive those who abused her. She resisted, thinking, “Isn’t forgiving the same as saying the abuse was no big deal? It was a big deal! It hurt me!”

But bitterness was destroying her from the inside and affected those she loved most. She had to give it up. She didn’t want to forgive, but she started at first by asking God to help her become willing to think about forgiveness. It took her a long time.

With God’s help, she experienced a renewal of her mind and spirit. “Today,” she says, “I can honestly say I have forgiven those who hurt me. I don’t know why these things happened. But I know that God is good. He was with me through the worst of times and has brought more healing than I dreamed possible. Now He’s using what I endured and what I have learned to help others.”

Sadly, people have to go through such torture. It would make anyone question whether or not God cared. I’m sure Joseph felt the same way when his brothers sold him into slavery. And what about David when the killer King Saul hounded him? And look at Daniel thrown into the lion’s den. And look at what Jesus and then His disciples went through being martyred for their faith. If you ever read Foxe’s Book of Martyrs, it will send chills down your spine.

I remember reading in 2014 what a Carmelite missionary priest said that during an attack on a mission station in Africa near the border with Chad, where members of the rebel group, Seleka sexually assaulted two religious sisters, originally from Europe, and a voluntary helper. Fr. Gazzera said: “One of the rebels who invaded the mission station held his gun to the head of one of the Sisters and forced her to undress. The other Sister and the voluntary helper were also sexually molested.”

Terrible isn’t it! But what does God say through His Word? Jesus knew what His disciples were going to face once He ascended back into heaven. So, He told them, “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world, you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”[1] And the Apostle Peter made it known that “After we have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.”[2] And the Apostle James tells us to “Count it all joy, my brothers and sister, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.[3]

Furthermore, the Apostle Paul urges us to, “Keep an open mind when we suffer, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”[4] And he goes on to share that he “Consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.”[5] Also, remember that “For those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose.”[6] Besides, Paul warns that “All who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted,  while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.”[7]

But in his vision, the Apostle John declares that “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death will be no more, neither will there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, because what’s past is past and will bother us no more.”[8] Think about it; this body will not follow us to heaven; we will receive a new body and a new mind free from all these hurtful memories. Nothing will gain entrance into heaven that can hurt us or make us sad. That’s God’s promise, so we must live and hold onto that guarantee. – Dr. Robert R Seyda


[1] John 16:33

[2] 1 Peter 5:10

[3] James 1:2-4

[4] Romans 5:3-5

[5] Ibid. 8:18

[6] Ibid. 8:28

[7] 2 Timothy 3:12-13

[8] Revelation 21:4

About drbob76

Retired missionary, pastor, seminary professor, Board Certified Chaplain and American Cancer Society Hope Lodge Director.
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