For some, their sexual abuse becomes their reason for rejecting the idea of a loving and powerful God. But for those victims who continue to believe in a God who is all-seeing, all-loving and all-powerful, the experience of sexual abuse raises some deep and difficult questions. Questions like:
- Where was God when I was being abused?
- Why didn’t God intervene and stop the abuse?
- What kind of God would let this happen?
- Does God even care?
At the outset, let me say I don’t have the answers to these questions. I don’t know why God didn’t intervene and prevent your abuse. As a minister, I still wrestle with such questions each time I work with a sexual abuse survivor.
It is beyond the scope of this post to decipher these deep theological questions, and even if I had the “right” answers, those answers would not feel sufficient, because they wouldn’t change your history or your hurt. These questions about God reveal a heart looking for solace more than a head looking for answers.
What I do know is that for some reason, God gives people (including you) the freedom to make decisions and act in ways that can be hurtful to themselves and others.
It doesn’t seem right that God would give an abuser the freedom to choose to abuse someone else. It feels Like God should have taken away the abuser’s freedom and forced them to do what was right.
But, would you want God to take away your freedom and force you to do what you should do? If your old protective behaviors are hurting others emotionally, do you want God to force you to do what you should do? Victims often believe that God should have taken from their abuser the very thing they would never want taken from themselves – the freedom to choose what they’re going to do…even if it’s not the best for them or others.
I don’t know why God allows people the freedom to hurt and abuse others, but I know that God promises to be with us in the hurt and to give us the ability to reshape it into something better. That may seem a day late and a dollar short, but think about it. Any old run-of-the-mill god should be able to snap their fingers and make all the bad things go away. This requires no commitment and no relationship. It just requires a flex of muscle. But a God who is so committed to us that He comes to us in the midst of our hurt, walks with us through the tragedy of our life, and then brings us to a better place in spite of our hurt…this is a God who is worth our attention and trust.
You may not believe this or even like this line of reasoning, but that is the message of the incarnation of Jesus. A God who could have flexed his muscles and made everything the way he wanted it (like an abuser), instead comes to a broken world, is mistreated and broken right along with the rest of us, and in that brokenness offers us hope. He does this, not by waving his hand and making the situation better, but by walking with us in the midst of the brokenness and making us better.