Home > Uncategorized > Condition for the Possibility

Condition for the Possibility

I’ve been reading Free of Charge by Miroslav Volf – a pretty awesome book so far. In his discussion of God as the giver of all things, he addresses the anticipate question in a way that I have not heard before. If God is the giver of all things, and nothing exists without God – then is God the giver of bad things?

Volf then discusses his own personal journey of infertility and the adoption of two children. He describes the painful longing for children of his own for many years. He also beautifully describes the joy of receiving these two boys in adoption. When he speaks of his children whom he loves – he is speaking of two specific children. And he would never want to trade these two specific children for two of his own now that he has them.

He then discusses how his suffering (infertility) provided a gift – the gift of the possibility for these two children. If he and his wife were not barren, they would have missed out on the blessings these two boys are to them. This doesn’t of course negate the pain of suffering- but it does reframe it.

Got me thinking- my life question has been around how God allowed (caused?) suffering through abuse. It gets particularly tricky for me when I recall the many moments as a young girl praying for specific protection that would only come many years later. I am well acquainted with the loss and consequences of that suffering.

What would happen though if I reframed my experience – rather than look at what life could have or should have been for me, what if I focused on what I have *because* of what I have been through. In other words, what possibilities exist because of the conditions abuse created?

The easiest one to name is that I have a heart for the vulnerable and needy and can sit with deep pain. I’m not sure that this would be true if I did not know deep pain myself. And this has often been what has dragged me through rough times – because of my pain, I can help others.

But there is more than that. My recent post spoke of knowing poverty, but also knowing God’s providence. I know without doubt that God will provide even when I can’t even begin to imagine how. The apartment I am living in and the wonderful blessings it is bringing may never have been mine to enjoy. I have friendships with so many people – a family comprised of believers – that who knows if I would have met should I not have been suddenly on my own and without 8 years ago.

On the weekend, Ihad the awesome experience of meeting a stranger who has been praying for me over the years. A person who knows my story – not by my own telling of it – and has lifted me up before my Heavenly Father in intercession.

My cat is a joyful and playful gift who teaches me so much about love and God and joy. Seems kind of silly to name, but this little (well, not so little) guy has journeyed with me through so much. I remember the moment I bought him – life would have been very different if I had not seen him in that rescue that very night and carried him to the place where I was living.

My love of cooking came about as a way to cope in a creative way. Cooking is now the one thing that can provide me with immense joy and satisfaction and it is a gift that I can give to others.

I have a close relationship with aunts, uncles and cousins. Yes, these relationships existed before but they wouldn’t be as deep and rich as they are now.

Would I have had the educational and vocational opportunities had my life been totally different? People have looked out for me, making connections for me when I’ve needed them, encouraged me when I needed encouragement. If my parents supported me as parents should, would people have been so generous to me in their care?

Most importantly, I have come to know and Love God and know his love. I have experienced him delighting in me and me delighting in Him. I remember one pastor writing me a note – saying that I would know God’s love more than others. As more time passes, I am coming to know that this is so very true – that the God I know now is so different, vast and beautiful. Would I know this God? This is one thing I wouldn’t trade for a rosy life.

The list goes on…

indeed, I am blessed.

The abuse – while horribly painful and impacting every aspect of my life – provided the conditions for the possibility of what life is. Like Volf, I can look back with this reframing and smile with thanksgiving overflowing from my heart anda greater sense of awe of what God has done for me. He has taken something as ugly as sexual abuse and made it into the conditions for what life is now.

Categories: Uncategorized
  1. John Sullivan
    December 19, 2013 at 3:24 pm

    A wonderful post Elizabeth. I can identify with everything that you have said. The reason I reached out to you in the first place was that I was a victim too as a teenager. The perpetrator was not a member of my family, but an SA officer who reached a high rank before being reported by other teen-agers and was sentenced to five years in penitentiary. I am sure that the source of my being a good pastor and counselor was in the pain that I struggled with for many years. You have a blessed Christmas!

    • December 24, 2013 at 12:11 am

      Thank you for Sharing. So many have been wounded this way and sadly Christians are guilty… My hope and prayer is that churches will be a place of healing, prevention and accountability

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