I don’t know about you, but that’s always surprising to me. God isn’t our abuser. He doesn’t condone what was done to us and He doesn’t want to make it worse. That’s not a truth I was raised with; I imagined God was some kind of nightmare head-on collision between a Traditionalist priest and an emperor from a science fiction dystopia. But I have come to realize that He isn’t like that.
I have poured my heart out in the presence of a God who chose in all things to stand with those who are abused. He chose to become a poor child of a despised race, a fugitive and a refugee with no rights in an occupied land, when He could have been anyone else in history. He chose to stand with the woman caught in adultery against the men who wanted to murder her; He chose to bend and write their sins on the ground until they had all dropped their stones and left. He chose to say “leave her alone” and “let the children come unto me” when He could have said anything else. He chose to touch lepers and disabled people, the people his culture counted as filthy, sinful and unclean.
He permitted Himself to be stripped naked, scourged, dressed up again and abused for the delight of sadists, then stripped naked once more and publicly tortured to death. And I believe He did this for me– for you who are reading this, for everyone who has survived abuse. I believe He did this so that our unbearable pain can be a godly thing. So that our descent into hell can be a thing that is taken up to Heaven, and us with it. I believe He did this so that whenever anyone looked to God, they would see the abused instead of their tormentors. They won’t see the Pharisees, the Sadducees, the proud Romans who conquered the world. They won’t see career politicians who always get their own way. They won’t even see the College of Cardinals or anything like that. That’s not how Christ chose to look. He chose to look like us. Anyone who looks to Christ will see someone Who has been a victim; someone Who has been physically and sexually abused, torn apart and put to death by the powerful. They will see Him standing at the right hand of the Father, and us with Him, and anyone who does not take offense will join Him there.Do you know what else I’ve seen?
This past few months I have seen men and women my age and older, who have carried the shame from sexual abuse and rape quietly their whole lives, speaking out for the first time. I have seen others believing them, strengthening them, encouraging them. I spoke honestly with my friends about what happened to me, and they didn’t act like the people I knew at the time it happened. They believed me.
I saw Christ in that– in the abused, and in those who comforted us.
I saw the love of Christ reflected in this horrible, broken, painful dark world.
Because of the Lord’s great love, we are not cast down. Well, maybe we are a little. I am. I’m sick with exhaustion and just going to get worse.
I’m resolving to take a little break from being online. Since I’m so often homebound with the fibromyalgia and everyone I know I see through Facebook instead of in person, that will probably only be about twenty-four hours or less. But I’m going to take a break tomorrow if I can. If I’m well enough I’m going to visit the Friendship Room; then I’ll go to Adoration and pray for all of you. I’ll be back in the evening or a little later.
Be gentle with yourselves, and with one another. I’m not going to say it’s going to be all right, but Christ is among us.
(image via Pixabay)