Romans 8:28 (NIV) says "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." This is a familiar passage of scripture for believers. It is often quoted in times of difficulty. However, I don't know many if any survivors who would think that somehow their experience will work out for good and that it somehow has purpose. After all many survivors who believe in God question how could He even allow this to happen. My own personal questions were "Where were you and how could a loving God allow this to happen to me?" So, how can this have purpose?
I grew up in a traditional Baptist church where you were taught not to question God. But I had questions and I wanted answers that no one else could give. So, why not ask? Well, I did and I got an answer, just not the one I expected. As we mature in our faith and in our relationship with God, we learn three things:
God can handle your questions and emotions
God doesn't cause bad things to happen but He does allow them
He doesn't owe us an explanation
Let me explain!
The scripture says "in all things" or as the King James Version puts it "all things" work together for good. This is not an indicator that God causes the "things" but instead uses the "things" (whether good or bad) to work for good not for evil in the lives of those who love Him. Think of some of the other things that have happened in your life that weren't so good such as falling off your bike when you were young, losing a loved one, not getting the job you wanted, etc. These things were not particularly pleasant but they taught you how to get back up and try again, to cherish those you love while you have them, and to keep applying. The same lessons can be learned from the difficult things such as the rape, the molestation, incest, sexual assault, etc.
I recently heard a message called Good Ground by Dr. Anita Phillips that really hit home for me. She's a woman of God and psychiatrist who believes in combining faith with a practical approach to healing. In this message she hit the nail on the head for I believe many survivors carrying around our hidden wounds. She said I don't know why but I know why not. What does that mean? Although we have every right to feel what we feel, we can express it to God, He can handle it. After all, He gave you the emotions to begin with. However, He may not answer. We may never get an answer to why this happened. But what we do know is that God cannot go against his nature of being merciful, gracious, loving, faithful, sovereign, and just plain good. Think of the times you asked your parents why, often times after they told you no or to go do something you didn't want to. If your parents were like mine, sometimes the reason was simply "because I said so". I personally disliked that response but I had to trust that they knew best and it wasn't going to kill me. I only saw it this way after I was grown. As a child, I still wanted to know why, a real answer. Not getting the answer I wanted didn't change their love for me or that they would take care of me. They just didn't feel the need to provide an explanation nor did they owe me one. The same happens with God. We may not know why but we know why not.
Things will happen to us and not all of them will be good. Although, there will be painful, some life changing things that will occur in our lives, God can and will use even those "things" to mold and shape us into the women and men He's calling us to be. Imagine if only good happened in our lives; what would cause us to grow; what would make us pray?
I hear you though, but how does what I've been through have purpose? What good can come out of it? How can this possibly have a purpose in my life? Well, it comes down to a matter of perspective. Let me be clear, it won't happen overnight. A change in perspective comes as we heal and learn to silence the myths, remove the self-blame, and remove the guilt that we often feel. When we place the blame in the right places and not on ourselves.
There comes a place on our healing journey where we begin to thrive as a survivor. We no longer are haunted by its memories. We aren't still reliving it everytime we think about it and can actually talk about it and not feel like we are going to combust at any moment. Have you every taken the time to think about the kind of person you've become since the abuse? Are you more compassionate and empathetic to others? Do you speak up for those who seem to have no voice? Do you correct people when they make comments that are just not true of survivors? Do you desire to share your story with others to let them know they aren't alone? If so, I dare say it's working for good not only in your life but in the lives of others.
I would have never thought that I would be doing what I do today. This blog, this website, being an advocate, or even leading a support group, I would have never chosen. But I've learned in my 19 years as a survivor and even as I embrace God's response to my questions that it had purpose and some things can only make sense when you've experienced them first hand. Painful but it has purpose.
Let's Talk About It!!!