Current Issues: Wounded Hearts

This article is very hard to write and my feelings are getting riled up easily. It might be helpful to start with a story, so here goes.

There was a young girl named Tamara who was born to a family of men. All she had was brothers and a father that doted on her. One day, they had to move to a different country and start their life anew. While Tamara was anxious, she was also excited to meet new girl friends and explore a new culture. Once at the city center, she runs into a handsome man, Max, wealthy by city standards and an heir to the family business. It was like a good feeling when you feel like you’re living a fairy tale, with your own Prince Charming. However, as they went on more dates, Max became more forceful and more aggressive and finally took advantage of her. She felt numb and betrayed, and all she could do was go home to her father’s house.

Meanwhile, there was another girl named Sara who had a brother named Anthony. They weren’t really close and Anthony kept teasing her and doing things to get her attention. One day, when he was feeling ill, she decided to bring him some warm soup to his room. He locked the door and took advantage of her.

Even as I type this article up, it gets very hard. Emotions such as anger over the abuse and pain for a fellow woman easily come to the surface. While the stories seem to be tales that we hear from close friends or even family members, the two snippets above are actually rewritten versions of two stories from the Bible: an account of Dinah’s story in Genesis 34 and Tamar and Amnon’s story in 2 Samuel 13. Both stories contain a similar theme and both Dinah and Tamar are hurt in the process.  Even now, I struggle to embrace the stories because we never know what happens to both girls after that. The Biblical account on both their experiences ends there and somehow, we do feel as if these voices are unheard and the suffering continues on.  

In our world today, this remains a relevant issue as someone is sexually assaulted every 2 minutes in the United States. Half of the cases happen to victims below 18 years of age, and a lot of perpetrators target vulnerable children below 5 years old. 60% of sexual assaults are committed by perpetrators known to the victim, and I’ve heard too many cases of family members, boyfriends and close friends taking advantage of a friend to know that it happens.

When I was 17 years old, I had two cousins who I grew up with in our small town. One of them met a guy who she found very cute and funny and in the end, she decided to meet up with him and his friends to hang out. No one in her immediate family knew where she was going except a friend who got so uncomfortable at the small gathering that she left after insisting that my cousin leave with her.  My cousin trusted her boyfriend and refused to leave. In the end, after endless partying and drug use, my cousin was repeatedly raped by her boyfriend and friends and she was left afterwards until someone found her and rushed her to the hospital. She was in really bad condition, and there was so much bleeding that everyone thought she couldn’t make it.  While she was out of the hospital in a few weeks, it took her longer to really, truly heal. With that, it took a while for her family and her brothers to heal and forgive those who sinned against their sister.

Some of our hurtful experiences in this life are because of wrong decisions we make, and others are a consequence of other people’s wrong choices. No matter what the specifics are, sexual abuse is sin and it is wrong. As a writer for Bloom!, I think that firstly, I would want to give a wounded girl friend a big hug and say that, God really loves you. It is because when we are hurt or we feel betrayed, we start coping with the pain in either of two ways. One option is to run to God, who is a true shield and refuge especially for those who are suffering.  Our other option is to run away. Running away is hard and risky, because it dictates that we rely on our own strength or the strength of other people to help us on. Despite all our best efforts, our strength will reach a point in time when we feel sapped of energy and will fail.

The hope is that through our sufferings, we have a God to turn to because He has suffered with us and for us. The best part is that He sees our trouble and He can carry us through it if we let Him in. It is in Christ Jesus that we are forgiven of our own sins and it is through Him that we are able to forgive others who have wronged us as well.

Dear Bloom! Readers, the world can be a very dark place and sometimes God places people in our lives that have been through a lot of hurt and pain. We are called to love them as Christ loves us. We are also sometimes given the opportunity to hear stories and bear our friends’ burdens in Christ (Galatians 6:2).  There are several ways we can reach out to others who go through such pain and these can also be ways by which we can also find healing in the Lord if we have gone through such painful experiences ourselves.

1.   Seek Biblical counsel and support – Counseling can be a scary and awkward process, but finding the right person who can provide you with a Biblical perspective and a trustworthy relationship can help you on your road to healing.  Also, getting involved in church with older mentors can provide you an opportunity to build strong and trusting relationships with older women who love the Lord, the Word and have been through some tough experiences as well. Pray that you find someone who is after the Lord’s heart, who can help you see God’s plans in your life and help you heal from hurtful experiences.

2.   Study God’s word – 2 Timothy says that the Bible has everything that we need in this life. Studying it by ourselves and with a group helps us understand the truth and attributes of God. While we constantly struggle with negative thoughts and emotions, God’s word can be the one that refuels us with the right perspective. There will be lies and negative thoughts, but God’s word will remind us the following He loves us; He died for us so we can live in Him and for Him; and we can be free.

3.   Pray even with our emotions -  Sometimes as believers, we start thinking that grief and sadness are moments to hide from God and that God doesn’t understand and thinks those emotions are wrong. Crying out to God when we feel hurt and broken allows us to connect to Him amidst our pain and remind us that God hides us in the shadow of His wings. Much like David’s pain when King Saul pursued him in Psalm 57, the passage shows us how we can enjoy God’s covering of our hearts when we are hurting or have been hurt.

4.   Give grace and have hope – There are times when we are removed from the situation quickly and there are trials that seem to linger on for long seasons. Also, God brings us friends who are going through a lot of trials just as well. A good reminder is that God is unchanging and His love is steadfast, and our circumstances are temporary. Let’s give grace to those who have sinned against us and those who have opened up to us about some painful life experiences. It is a wonderful opportunity to remind each other of the gospel: that Christ died for our sins that we can have life and have it in full. Let us have hope that God is our mighty fortress and that He is our judge and Father as well.

Dearest Lord,

It is our prayer at Bloom! that you forever be glorified. Please guide our hearts that we are ever fixed on you. Please heal our hearts that we may not grieve no longer for things past. Please enliven our hearts that we can serve you so that all our hopes and trials be used as an offering to You. Amen.


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