Written by: Ps Jenni Ho-Huan (Photo by: Ronald Lim)
Finding hope through the pain
She sounded urgent on the phone. When she finally arrived in my dorm room, her face told me that she was troubled. She eventually told me that she was nearly date raped.
He was a Christian guy whom she had met on campus. She was a very young believer and had thought that it was only right to go out with a fellow Christian. With teary eyes, she asked me, “Why didn’t God stop it? Why didn’t He rescue me?”
I had no answer for her.
She was a star student, extremely beautiful, and of a gentle disposition. She would never have baited him. I hardly knew the guy and my thoughts were filled with vitriol towards him.
Why would a good God allow a nice girl like her to end up like this? She certainly didn’t deserve it. I had no answer for myself.
This happened nearly thirty years ago.
As we are bombarded by outrageous evil, witness senseless violence, and read of the sacrifice of children to neglect, greed, injustice, and oppression, we are left wondering why God doesn’t act to stop any of it.
A few months back, I came to know of a prominent Christian businessman whose teen daughter was gang raped when their home was broken into. Even as an adult today, married with children, she tears up as she shares about it.
There are some things we will never forget.
For this young girl who was raped, this traumatic incident could have become her story. It could have become the headline that would hog and overshadow everything else about her; she would go through life forever broken, limping, and aching over it — fearful of men; dreading her future; hiding from God, herself, and others. But it didn’t.
Thankfully, this was not the case for my friend too. She is today married with a beautiful daughter.
Perhaps, God did rescue them.
It is still easy to remember of a season of my life where I had experienced loss. I felt very inconsolable and wondered when my difficult relationship at work with my superior would end. My dreams and expectations were completely dashed and I was left deeply disappointed about the relationship.
As I wasn’t even sure what I wanted, God had to show it to me. I saw a picture of a helicopter lowering a ladder to rescue someone from the rooftop, as a fierce deluge raged on. Immediately I knew that was what I wanted: to be rescued, and airlifted out of my situation. But at that moment I sensed God saying that I had to walk through the experience. Even though I had felt like I was drowning and desperately wanted to be saved, God wanted me to go through it.
I cried some more…until I realised that God was also saying that it would not last forever. I just needed to be brave and soldier on — not avoid it or wish it away. These familiar words came to mind: “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil. For You are with me, your rod and your staff, they comfort me” (Psalm 23:4).
Strength and courage comes when we stop fleeing and turn to face what is before us.
There is a thing called “A Necessary Journey.” It is the time where we must face up to the circumstances, endure, overcome, so as to grow into the next level of maturity. Along the way, we discover different facets of the maturing process such as:
1. We become aware of how naïve we are
We can all be naïve about ourselves at times. Some of us may refuse to admit to our weaknesses and demons. We take our weaknesses lightly and allow the demons to lurk around. These unseen things will take us down, hence we must be brave to face them.
We must admit to our propensity to fear peer pressure, desire attention, and compromise on our values. Without a true admission and devotion to go the other way, we may set ourselves up for a weak faith and life. Truth and authenticity happens when we accept who we are and admit that we need to grow.
2. We see the world with clearer eyes
When we go through a time of darkness and uncertainty, where the force of all the negative emotions charges at us, it forces us to squint and look for hope. This new focus will reveal that even though life can be hard, it also offers us reprieve and surprises.
Life can shimmer with a strange light as each new day dawns. Often, our worst nightmares don’t actually materialise. We are met with kindness from total strangers. Our hearts respond to beauty, nourishment, and laughter.
Each time, we are urged to choose the simplicity of gratitude over griping; faith over fear. This choice turns upon something we cannot fully engineer: the visitation of God’s grace. Hope and Persistence grows within us when we realise that we can stand on Grace.
3. We make the defining choice of what to base our lives upon
Change is always possible — a new trajectory can be activated with a wholly different outlook. We can choose to trust and rise up again; or we can run, hide, cower, and blame. It is a pivotal moment.
We can turn to God and depend on Him or continue to try to make it on our own. We can move deeper into His demonstrated love, or marshal our energies to try and hack through the gangly mess of emotions. During these moments, who we become and what stand for often start to emerge — the direction, colour, texture, and message of our lives begin to take shape.
In my own journey, turning to a God who alone can absorb all my fears, put up with all my rants, suffer through my silence has given me a chance to discover that God is who He says He is. He saves.
His saving adopts a far longer view than mine. His saving accounts for so much more than I can save myself. His saving happens when I recognise my necessary journey and decide that with God, I can brave it and come through shining. Purpose, Security, and Generosity develop as we continually renew our trust in God.
Honestly, I still ask God sometimes, “Just do something!”
And sometimes He asks me back, “What would you like to do about it?”.
God still asks the best questions.