Tuesday, October 20, 2009

What is God's Role in the Story of Abuse?

"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers" Romans 8:28-29 (NIV).

God promises that he will work all things to good for Believers in Romans 8:28-29. This is quite different than saying that everything (including abuse) is good for us or happens to us for a good reason. Our society urges us to believe that everything happens "for a reason," a true but vague statement meant to reassure us in bad circumstances. I urge you to think about the reasons.

Sometimes natural nature events take place, like a flood or volcano erupting, but by far the majority of happenings in our daily life happen because people do "things."Most "things" happen because people make decisions and take actions. These actions are motivated by love or kindness and sometimes by greed or lust, or any other motives that we humans are capable of conceiving. Abuse "happens" when a human being decides to feed their lust or greed with perpetrating sinful acts against an innocent person(s).

God doesn't make sinful things "happen." The God of Christianity is not a puppetmaster who continually arranges each thing that happens to us for his own mysterious reasons. He occasionally directly intervenes in the events of history [such as when he made Balaam's donkey talk (Numbers 22:5-7) or when He parted the Red Sea for the trapped Israelites (Exodus 14:15-31)]. But for the most part, God's interventions are about transforming individual believers more into the likeness of Jesus Christ. His gentle whisper is heard. His leading as a trustworthy Shepherd is followed. His commands are obeyed. His Word is kept close in the heart. His grace is received. His love is cherished. And a life is transformed into a shining light that can influence others positively.

God is promising in Romans 8 that when we are ravaged by another person's sinful choices, he will work future good out of today's tragedy. For a believer, God is present in it all, transforming the pain into a series of opportunities to know Him better and become more like Him. He comforts us in our loss. He strengthens us to recover. He leads us into a better life. He uses our past pain as a way to give us ministry opportunities, because we can comfort others with the comfort that God himself has given us.

God is love. The Bible says it clearly from beginning to end. God's purpose isn't hidden. It is clearly stated over and over. He loves His people and wants to be in eternal loving relationship with them. God can, and sometimes does intervene in history, but it is not what he does most of the time. Most of the time, He courts us, urging us to allow Him into our hearts, in good times and in tragedy. Throughout our walk with Him he works through the positive and negative experiences we have, always coaxing us to become more like our Savior in our innermost being.

If we're not sure if we are His people and can rightfully claim this promise, we are only a prayer away. God's arms are wide open in welcome and he joyfully knocks at the door of our hearts. All we need to do is pray and ask Him to enter in and become the Lord of our lives, believing that He is God and that He sent His son to die for our sins so that we could be close to God and talk to Him whenever we want. God's kingdom is good and all are welcome, if only they will humbly ask.

Look for God's comforting presence. He didn't perpetrate abuse against you for unfathomable good reasons. Granted, He decided not to intervene, but it was because He knew He could redeem the situation with your willing cooperation. He knows He can help you and heal you. He knows that what the enemy meant for evil, our loving Lord will transform into something good, something redeemed, something that will reflect the glory of His Son.

"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers" Romans 8:28-29 (NIV).

2 comments:

Girl In a Glass House said...

Tanya

This was absolutely beautiful. As I was reading it I was reminded of a thought of Philip Yancey's in his book "Prayer: Does it Make a Difference?" He said for whatever reason, God has chosen to work in this world from the bottom up rather than the top down. That made me think a little differently. We are hurt but it is our reaching up and out that causes God's response. He could reach down and stop things (and once in awhile He does) but, for the reasons you have cited, He will allow circumstances to rock our world.

I love the way you have turned your pain into comfort for others.

May God bless you as you blog for HIs glory!

Tanya T. Warrington said...

Thank you for leaving encouraging comments, Girl in a Glass House. I know your comment today will help other readers.

I haven't read the Yancey book you site. "God has chosen to work in this world from the bottom up rather than the top down." Wow. That makes one stop and think. He could easily do it differently. He has the power to do absolutely anything.

But he chooses to give us free will. He chooses to let us discover our need of Him and His love. He waits for us to reach toward Him. And then He is so present with us!

Recommended Books

  • 10 Lifesaving Principles for Women in Difficult Marriages by Karla Downing
  • A Way of Hope by Leslie J. Barner
  • Angry Men and the Women Who Love Them by Paul Hegstrom
  • Battered But Not Broken by Patricia Riddle Gaddis
  • Boundaries by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend
  • Bradshaw on the Family by John Bradshaw
  • Caring Enough to Forgive/Not Forgive by David Augsburger
  • Codependent No More by Melody Beattie
  • Healing the Wounded Heart by Dr. Dan B. Allendar
  • Keeping the Faith: Questions and Answers for the Abused Woman by Marie M. Fortune
  • Perfect Daughters by Robert J. Ackerman, Ph.D.
  • Recovery: A Guide for Adult Children of Alcoholics by Herbert L. Gravitz and Julie D. Bowden
  • Safe People by Dr Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend
  • Slay Your Own Dragons by Nancy Good
  • The Cinderella Syndrome by Lee Ezell
  • The Dance of Anger by Harriet Goldhor Lerner, Ph.D.
  • The Search for Significance by Robert S. McGee
  • Turning Fear to Hope by Holly Wagner Green
  • When Violence Comes Home: Help for Victims of Spouse Abuse by Tim Jackson and Jeff Olson
  • Why Does He Do That? by Lundy Bancroft