Nothing in this world seems more brutal, more unfair, and crueler than the abuse of a child. Whether it’s child trafficking, child hunger, emotional, mental, physical, or sexual abuse, children are the most vulnerable among us. For any decent human being, the stories of Satan’s work against our children churn our stomachs and fuel our rage. It also fuels the questions of where is God and why does He allow even the children to suffer so? If you have not faced this question from others or asked yourself the same, you are more than likely in the minority.
Even as a devoted follower of Christ, there have been times when I have had to ask the Lord “why?” Why allow it to happen to them? What chance do they have? What will become of them? Are you really there for them in their darkness and loneliness? Well, He has begun to answer me, one story at a time – He IS good and faithful, He DOES care, and He WILL pursue the brokenhearted to offer them refuge in Him.
One such story is about a friend of mine, Kerri Bishop-Reece. Kerri is a very bubbly person. I met her in the gym at work when I joined her fitness class. Nothing about Kerri would tip you off to the struggles that she has faced throughout her life. She is very open about her belief in Jesus and is smart, outgoing, funny, and just a joy to be around. She makes even working out a fun time. However, Kerri has a life story filled with the horror of abuse as a child.
Her first memory is at 2 years old when her innocence, childhood, security, and safety were first stripped away from her at the hands of her step brother who was much older than her. From that sweet, precious, and vulnerable age of 2, she was repeatedly victimized throughout her childhood by multiple family members and friends of the family whose souls were dark and serving the devil in attacking Kerri. You might ask “where were her parents in all of this?” Shockingly, her mother knew about the abuse, hid it from her father, and did nothing to protect her. The blind eye that her mother turned to the raping of her daughter threw Kerri into a dark place where she was all alone and had no safety net, nowhere to turn.
Kerri’s first introduction to God was after she told her mother about being raped. Her mother took her downstairs, opened up a huge, white, leather-bound bible, and told her that it was the book of life – God knew all, saw all, and punished all for their sins. She shamed Kerri for the sins of her step brother, making it seem like it was all her fault. Kerri struggled with the guilt and the questions of wondering why God was punishing her. By the age of 10, Kerri hated God – with understandable reason. She wondered why, if he was such a good God, he allowed such horrible things to happen. The pain that Kerri suffered at the hands of her family and those who were supposed to take care of her was deep – physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. It caused her to look for ways to numb to the sharp edge and medicate the emotions away.
Kerri’s season of healing began one night after she had hit rock bottom. Leading a life filled with drugs, alcohol, and one bad decision after another, she found herself behind the wheel of a car late at night – half asleep, but completely sober. As she drove down the dark, rain dampened roads, drifting off to sleep, she suddenly jerked wide awake as she saw what appeared to be a homeless man who looked very familiar crossing in front of her vehicle’s path. Slamming on the brakes, she tried unsuccessfully to avoid hitting him. Screaming, she jumped out of the car to see what she had done, to see his lifeless body – only, he wasn’t there. Suddenly, it hit Kerri. The reason he looked familiar was because it was the image of Jesus that she had seen all those years before in that white leather bound bible full of not only scripture but big colored pictures of Jesus and his disciples – the bible that her mother had read to her, just once, as a child, all those years before. It was at that point that she knew that He was fighting for her – He wanted her to be okay, to know that she was loved, and to know that she could live a God-glorifying life despite the horror of her past – her past did not have to define her.
Her healing did not happen overnight; rather, it took some significant time. But she knew that she was turning her life around at that point. She discarded her victim’s mentality and took ownership of her pain. She began to deal with her issues, reflect on her story, and find the path to reconciliation with God. She discovered His faithfulness as she looked back over her life and saw the people that He had placed there – school friends who invited her to AWANA on Wednesday nights where Jesus was present; a special Aunt Jean who encouraged her to work hard, live right, and be proud of herself; her Dad who helped her learn the importance of keeping her finances together, her nose clean, and out of trouble; and two good friends who had preachers for fathers and with whom church attendance was mandatory for Kerri to hang out with them. All of the messages that she received from these people helped to weave together a lifeline that God was throwing to her.
Overall, Kerri acknowledges that she would not have made it through life without the strength given to her by God. How does she answer the question “how could God allow this”? Well, it comes down to the fact that we live in a world with fixed laws and free will. There are evil people, who will do evil things, but they are not the victors and they do not get to win your soul. Jesus gave His life on the cross and He affords us the opportunity to cover ourselves with Him, to find our strength in Him, to find our forgiveness in Him, and to find our victory in Him. Through Him, we can choose to follow the light and just leave the dark behind us – He is the victor and He can heal our souls.