For the year 2020 i have a goal to read at least 50 books. I'm on my fourth book now. I like a lot of different types of books, and I enjoy talking about them. Most of the time, I like the books I read, other times, not so much. I want to tell you about a book I read last week; it is based on a true story, and even though I finished it, I can't say I really liked it. If You Tell is the true story of a woman that abused her three daughters, killed her neqhew, and killed two friends. Her crimes lasted for years, until finally her daughter told. Not only were the methods of abuse highly disturbing, but the manipulation this mother used on her children and on others, kept them quiet for over 18 years! The girls went to school everyday, they interacted with friends, teachers, relatives, yet still they did not tell. They felt the need to protect their mother instead. When the entire story is laid out in a book; it's astonishing. The level of shame inflicted on their lives was it's own form of torture. This woman did go to prison, surprisingly her sentence was only for 17 years, which means she will be released in just a couple of years.
Now that the book is finished, I've had questions. What if the girls had told sooner? They were afraid that no one would believe them, or they would bring more damage upon themselves. Whatever the case, they couldn't do it. But, still I wonder how their lives would've been different had they told.
Then, yesterday as I was reading in Acts17 in the Message, this one phrase stood out to me: "He doesn't play hide-and-seek with us. He's not remote; he's near." I thought of this family, the girls growing up, the mother. I had to ask, "What was God doing?"
As I've said before, the fact that I get to ask God this question is something I love about Him. He allows me to process, think, and question. He doesn't always give the answer to me, but He does listen to me. I did come to somewhat of a conclusion. All the pain the girls endured changed them forever, but it didn't break them. They grew up, went to school, got jobs, had families. They treated their children with love and respect. They learned that truth sets us free. Free from shame, secrets, and fear. Still, I'm battling with the "why" and I suppose I always will in some form. There is evil, and that evil makes a stain on our lives. But, still....it feels like God was hiding from them. It feels like He was remote. It feels like He just turned a blind eye.
And so there we sit with the decision, again. Faith. Throughout all of scripture God tells me that He is near. He tells me that He loves all of us, that He will not leave us. I've wrestled with those realities in my own life many times. When I wrestle with these realities for others, I again am challenged with faith. For me, I keep praying that God will bring supernatural intervention in not only the lives of these now grown girls, but a flood of love, hope, and peace. I want them to be able to pass on the reward of truth telling to those around them, and live much better lives. I want their story to strengthen my faith in Who God is. The God of intervention, break through, and new beginnings. I want their story to catapult others into bravery, courage, and strength. I choose to believe that God's hand is in it all. The preservation of hearts is His business, the release of truth in each of us stamps out the shame of evil and pain. The sustaining power of joy in all circumstances yields fruit. This is the answer for me today.
What are you wrestling with today?