I write this for several reasons. First my church is dealing with a controversy surrounding sins that arose in our church dating back to 2002 and 2005. Secondly, because of the nature of this controversy, there have been number of victims in our church, including friends very close to me and my wife, who are having their troubling past revisited as a result of the lies going around on the internets regarding our pastor and elders. So my goal is to encourage along with shed light on genuine victim-status-changing deliverance that is only found in Jesus.
It is truly heart wrenching to hear of stories of people who have experience total defenselessness at the hands of evil dominance. I serve as a Deacon in a congregation of about 800, which means there are many in our midst who have gone through some sort of experience like this. The effects of these experiences don’t just go away overnight and sometimes take decades to unravel and deal with. Real healing and real ministry to those dealing with past abuse happens in gospel community and with real pastoral care. Good pastoral care in these situations is like a gifted doctor, and gospel community is like the nurses surrounding the patient. The doctor assesses and skillfully administers treatment. The nurses apply the warm cloth on the forehead, and provide all the necessary comforts and needs of the patient. You need both the doctor and the nurses in these cases, but what you don’t need is people who think they are doctors or nurses.
One other thing that I want to address before I move on, and that is where special comfort should come from.
II Corinthians 1:3-8
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also abounds through Christ. Now if we are afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation, which is effective for enduring the same sufferings which we also suffer. Or if we are comforted, it is for your consolation and salvation. And our hope for you is steadfast, because we know that as you are partakers of the sufferings, so also you will partake of the consolation.
Those who have experience tribulation, like abuse, are in a special position to bring a particular kind of comfort to those who have gone through the same sufferings. That is why blogs like this are so encouraging to those who have been sexually abused.
So what does the Bible Say About Victims?
Hebrews 11 is known as the Great Hall of Faith. But another way to think about it is the Great Victims of the Faith. By faith the harlot Rahab received the spies (v.30), by faith Moses chose to suffer (v.25), through faith… out of weakness were made strong (v.34), others were tortured rejecting deliverance (v35), others were mocked and scourged (v.36), stoned, sawn in two, destitute, afflicted, and tormented (v37). And what was the result of all these victims? The world was not worthy of them (v.38).
The bible is very clear that victims, who turn their tragedies, their weaknesses into strengths, are obtaining a good testimony through faith (v.39). This is all possible and done through faith. It is in that confidence and peace that victims can find true healing and true grace. So we are always called to take what has happened in our life, weather good or bad, and lift it up to God who refines and turns it into a means for the salvation of others.
Jesus is the Conclusion
The conclusion, the answer for all tragedy is Christ. The answer for all sorrow, all pain, all helplessness is Jesus. The antithesis of what a true victim is, is victimhood. Victimhood, while it usually includes true abuse, takes the victim’s tragedy and utilizes it as a bat to beat others over the head with. This is the challenge in our current controversy. In all this, there are people who have been genuinely taken advantage of, but are turning their past into their identity. To hold your victim status like a pearl is to keep Jesus far from holding you in His healing power. So the challenge is dealing with true abuse, but at the heart of our current controversy is a rejecting of Jesus who is the perfect victim. Victimhood takes the gospel and flips it upside down. Victimhood is claiming everyone needs to be justified to me, and while your at it by me. Victimhood says I can do no wrong, no matter what I say. But in the providence of God He always provides “something better for us” (Hebrews 11:40).
Jesus in the midst of His excruciating abuse cried out from the cross for the Father to forgive them. You see victimhood becomes a problem when you don’t look to Christ from heeling, but instead look to the Internet or to groupies for that healing. No matter where we are at, we are called to look at the cross where the Father forgives. In fact the lower you are, the more downtrodden you are, the more you have suffered, the greater your healing will be when you look up. Victimhood will eat away at you when you don’t let the perfect victim Jesus into your life to cleans and heal you from all of your own sins, and the sins that others have committed against you. This is the central problem with victimhood- don’t demand everyone be justified with you! No, demand everyone be justified by Christ.