A story of endurance though God’s strength and love
Published 10:30 am Friday, April 30, 2010
The questions continue throughout the centuries, “Why did this happen to me and not to that person?” “Why do some people have such rough lives and others have a bed of ease?” “Don’t I have a right to be angry, considering what I have gone through?” “What they did to me has spoiled my life! Don’t I have a right to give up and feel sorry for myself?” “Why not just give up? I can never seem to succeed at anything!”
We often go an entire lifetime and never find the answers to such questions. At times we feel that life just isn’t fair and God — if there is one — should have treated us better. Anger against life — and yes, God himself — can easily arise when one has gone through especially rough times. Life can indeed be harsh at times, and one can easily become discouraged and bitter.
I just finished a book by an acquaintance of mine. In the book she recounts in detail the early part of her life. I know who she is now, but I had no idea of the life of terror she lived as a child. I will only say that if you think you have gone through hard times, you certainly would have nothing over her — believe me!
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This woman in her childhood and early adulthood lived a nightmare existence in stages one after another after another. After reading about once instance, I thought surely the horror would end. Yet another was added. But now she was out of that situation and life would get better, right? No! It was as though she was traveling from one room in a “house of horrors” into another and yet another.
Certainly this all drove her to despair and to end her life or at least live the rest of her life in bitterness, right? Well, it did drive her to the desire to die and to nearly ending it all. But, by the grace of God someone reached out to her at just the right moment and she lived on.
What is she like now? Did the early horrors of abuse, total lack of parental and family affection and morality, and continual terrors spoil her for life? They easily could have! They probably should have! They have for so many others! Yet they didn’t for her.
Did they make her bitter against God? They easily could have! They probably should have! They have for so many others! Yet they didn’t! Why not?
God alone knows how he arranged the strength for her to endure these atrocities and come out whole. Yet she is indeed an active, intelligent, productive and even joyful person. She has written her book to help others to know of her story and have hope that there may be a way out of a living hell on earth. She has written articles and spoken to groups of those who have suffered abuse. She brings rays of light into their worlds of deep and utter darkness.
Through it all, she kept her faith in a loving God and in Jesus Christ as her complete savior from sin. Perhaps a passage such as Romans 8:28 was part of her stronghold when it 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.” Or maybe a passage such as Isaiah 55:8-9: “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.”
She seemed determined somehow not to allow those who had robbed her of her childhood and innocence, those who had abused her so severely, to rob her of her spirit and the rest of her life. Now she is just as determined to turn their evil into good by helping others in abusive situations.
Perhaps it is similar to how you handle things in a card game. What do you do if you are dealt a rotten hand? You can either throw them back and quit, or you can do the very best with the cards you are dealt. You can sit and sulk and pout because those cards aren’t the best, or you can move forward and use them in the best way possible. You can immediately develop a defeatist attitude, or you can hope for the best and try your hardest to win — in spite of what you have been dealt.
This wondrous woman, with God’s help and strength, somehow moved past her horrendous prison and into the sunlight of life. One passage that she does state was a blessing to her is Psalm 27:10 “For my father and my mother have forsaken me, but the Lord will take me up.”
There are many sad, horrible, unfair, rotten things that happen to people in this world. It is all a result of the entrance of ‘sin’ introduced to our world by Satan and his temptation of the first couple, Adam and Eve. They had no concept of what the results would be of their disobedience of God. There is unthinkable abuse, unimaginable cruelty, heartless selfish acts, as well as the effects of our loved ones’ addictions, psychological and emotional problems, accidents, cancer, etc.
Yes, sin has brought a multitude of ‘bad cards’ into our lives. So, what are you going to do with them? Will you let them rob you of your life and inner spirit? Or will you with God’s help follow this woman’s lead and step out into the sunshine? Will you let it spoil your eternity? Or will you reach out to God for his help and through faith in the Triune God and in Jesus Christ as complete savior from sin, overcome and obtain the victory?
I have no right to tell you this woman’s name, but if you want to or need to, find my name in the phone book, call me, and I will give you the information to her website. She indeed has a story that will break your heart, but also give you hope in human endurance through our wondrous God’s help.
Dennis Schmidt is reverend for the Hartland & Manchester Lutheran churches.