Sexual abuse is a silent enemy. Those that have been abused often think they are to blame, remain silent, and hurt…hurt on the inside. Some are too young to know where the pain comes from, to young to know what’s been lost. Some are older, and realize the trust and relationships that cannot be replaced. Whether the abuser was a family member, a trusted friend, or someone you had never met doesn’t change the fact that the road to healing is incredibly hard. If you’ve been abused, you can tell me more than I could ever write. Erin’s Story is just one of many that I’ve heard. Erin was one of the lucky ones that found hope. The question remains for many, how can God let something so devastating happen to us? One woman asked me how God could stand by and watch that happen to a little girl. God isn’t ignorant of sexual assault, nor does he hide the knowledge of it from us. He actually prepares us with a story about it. In the story found in Judges 19 of the Bible, He doesn’t deny the existence of sexual sin, but does show us how He fights for and redeems what’s been lost.
Where the Good Guys Fall
The Book of Judges recounts the story of how God’s people (Israel) continued on after they had crossed over from the wilderness to the Promised Land. Once they were sent out into their own territories, they began to rely more on their own judgement than on God’s. Eventually, by the time the second generation had grown up, they were immersed back into the sins of the surrounding culture. God had great compassion on them, but was angry at their sin. They had forgotten what God had done for them, they and brushed off His promises. The Israelites had begun to trust themselves over God, and identify themselves with the world around them instead of the one God had shown them. So God left them alone to fight their battles. When we trust ourselves more than God today, we begin to make choices that please ourselves and our own desires, without regard to how that affects others. Therein lies the root of many sins, including sexual sin.
It’s Not Your Fault
Chapter 19 of the book of Judges tells the story of a woman that was gang raped and murdered. She cheated on her husband, and then ran away to her father’s house. Evidently, things were not well in that relationship. Four months later, her husband goes to get her, and wanted her to come back. After days of partying with her Father, the husband finally left to take her home. They traveled back by donkey, and went through a couple of rough towns. In one of them, they stayed the night with a man that was kind to them and gave them a place to sleep. The roughnecks of the town banged on the door, and wanted to rape the man traveling through. Oddly enough, the owner of the home asked them to take his daughters instead. (Hospitality was valued more highly than virtue.) Eventually, the visitor gave up the wife he had just traveled to retrieve. He seized her against her will and gave her to the lustful mob to be gang raped, in order to save himself from the same fate. Then he rested through the night while his wife was being brutally assaulted outside. He found her in the morning, dead on the doorstep. He tied her body to his donkey, finished the journey home, and then cut her corpse into 12 pieces. He sent a piece to each of the twelve tribes of Israel, and expected them to redeem his loss. The loss he himself had induced. This is a horrible story, and there’s a lot of room for finger-pointing throughout. The bottom line is this…dark, lustful sexual sin exists, and it will have it’s victims. Was this experience the woman’s fault? No. She was unfaithful to her husband, yes, but once they had reconciled, she traveled home with him. So, it would appear that they had made up. However, Verse 25 says that the man “seized her and made her go out to them”. That would mean it was against her will. So, she put up a fight that last night, but lost to the strength and will of the men that abused and killed her. She was not responsible for the sin committed against her. The men that committed the crimes were making choices to pleasure themselves without regard of the cost to anyone else. Sexual sin has never stopped causing deep harm to it’s victims. If you’ve experienced sexual abuse or assault, you are not alone, and it is not your fault.
He Fights for Us
On the other side of the sin committed against us is the God who loves us, values us, and has promised us hope and a future. The woman in the story didn’t live to see the nation of Israel go to war on her behalf, but they did. They fought until they had complete victory. In the same way, we may never see all the ways God fights for us. We weren’t there when He sent Jesus to die for our sins. We may not have noticed doors that have opened and closed, or the ways He protects us. The Bible is full of promises that describe the way the Lord fights for us, and how much He values each one of us. When we look to Him and seek to discover who we are in Him, He responds by wrapping us in His love, just as we are. The hurt and shame that results from sexual abuse is deep. Those hurts have to heal. Victims have to be convinced of their value, learn to trust relationships, and completely understand that the sin was not their fault. Those are three very difficult things to do, and God is capable of redeeming those losses. He can make us whole again. Remember, God doesn’t focus on our hurts or what we’ve done wrong, but on His great love and purposes for us. (There’s a great story about that HERE.) He doesn’t look at what we did or what was done to us. He sent His son Jesus to redeem and rescue His people, and Jesus will show us the way forward from where ever we are, in whatever condition we find ourselves, regardless of how brutally we have been treated. When we lift our eyes to see Him, lift our eyes up to look for hope, He will meet us there to rescue us from the very pits of despair and shame. Let Him fight for you.