One of the things I do is walk with women through pain–pain experienced at the abusive hands of another. My conviction is that there is no pain that my God cannot heal. I hold on to this conviction even when I sit with wounded hearts through hours, days, and sometimes years of darkness that appear to the eyes to be impenetrable to the light.
I loan out hope.
I loan out courage.
I loan out the message of the cross that says, “There is a way to live again!”
Yesterday I received an email from one of these precious women. With her permission, I share this with you, because I am confident that there are those of you out there who are trying to make sense of your suffering and wondering why and for how long the pain will whittle away at your peace, joy,and hope. Please read and be inspired by the God of all hope; know you are not alone…this too could be your story one day.
Since I left you today the wheels in my head have been turning , thinking about who God is and what His greater purpose is in suffering (a little more so than usual, oh yeah, it’s Thursday). So I took a look at Isaiah 53. As I was reading different translations, trying to fully grasp the meaning I came to realize and question a few things. (Forgive me if these are things you’ve told me five hundred times already.) God sent Jesus with a plan in mind for him to suffer. His life was ordained and played out as it did. Did God author the evil that was done to Jesus? If his plan was for Jesus to suffer, then wouldn’t he have to author the evil? If God does not author evil, but chooses not to stop the evil sins of man because…well, then I guess we’d be in heaven already, in which case there wouldn’t have been any reason to send Jesus. So that being said, man sins by nature. God can (and probably does, very often, I’d imagine) choose to stop a person from committing a sin against another, however, we wouldn’t know it, because it didn’t happen. Conversely, God also chooses not to stop evil things from happening, just as he didn’t stop the sin of man against Jesus. The key point in Jesus’ suffering is that it was used for a greater purpose (which glorifies God), and although it caused Jesus much anguish, Jesus becomes aware of this greater purpose and is able to accept the terrible deeds against him knowing what the greater purpose was/is. If I understand Isaiah 53:11 correctly it clearly states that ‘He shall see [the fruit] of the travail of His soul’, another version says when ‘He sees all that is accomplished by his anguish’, another, ‘out of the anguish of his soul he shall see’ and they all end with ‘and He will be satisfied.’ Even Jesus, Son of God, Son of man needed to see a purpose in His suffering. He needed to understand the glory to God that was to be had of His own suffering.
So, looking at it from that perspective, if God allowed such evil to happen to His perfect son, (for a greater good and His glory) then who the heck are we to think that we’d be exempt from such suffering? And if we are image bearers of Christ being transformed into His likeness, then we too must go through suffering knowing that it is for a greater good and His glory. So if our purpose of being created is to glorify God then so must our sufferings. And just as God sent Jesus to suffer and reconcile us to himself then are we also made to share this message of reconciliation as ambassadors of Christ through our sufferings (2 Corinthians 5:18-21)? Is this the ultimate purpose in suffering? I’m suddenly reminded of something you’ve said to me a few times (hopefully I don’t butcher it). If there’s no suffering at all, then who needs a Savior? But because there is suffering, there’s Jesus. Which leads me to think about His healing power and what it looks like. If we are being transformed to be like Him and will ultimately be like Him (1 John3:2) and we allow Him to dwell in our hearts now, then do we have the ability to face suffering as he did? And if we can face suffering as Jesus did (too tired to explore that right now), is that what it looks like to glorify God?
Please share this. For as much pain as it caused my head to process, if it will help someone else, by all means share (hmm, a purpose?) I think because if that is where I’m going to rest, then with it comes responsibility. A responsibility that I’m afraid will leave my heart vulnerable. Allowing God to lead my heart and allowing others to see it is frightening to me. I guess it’s kind of ironic that the purpose that I long for also scares the heck out me when understanding comes within reach. It also leaves me wondering how this will play into the rest of my journey. Jesus forgave His adversaries in all His grief, to the glory of God, for a greater purpose. How do I muster up that kind of strength to stand in such glory? To be determined…
Have you reached the end of your hope? Have you experienced sexual abuse? Have you suffered what you think is unspeakable pain? There is a Healer for you! Please don’t suffer alone. Reach out. Ask someone to loan you hope, walk with you to the cross, and cheer you on to embrace its power. Come, discover your Healer!