Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Unit 4 Lesson 4, From Death to Life

Survivors of sexual abuse suffer a mental and emotional death as a result of the abuse. God created you to live in a wholeness of body and soul. Sexual abuse severely damages that ability. Your first need is to have your mind and emotions restored to life and health.

Now that you have started your restoration from sexual abuse, you can understand the biblical pattern of restoration. One of the Hebrew words for restoration means "to live" or to "be restored to life". Restoration from the abuse means to live, perhaps for the first time in your life!

In 2 Kings chapter 4, a Shunamite woman befriended the prophet Elisha, and she and her husband built a room for the prophet of God in their home. Elisha, wanting to do something to thank the woman, prayed that she would conceive a son. The Shunamite woman gave birth to a son the following year. Later in chapter 4, the son (a grown man) died, but God restored him to life. This story vividly demonstrates the principle of restoration. God gives life and even when circumstances cause death, God can restore life. Only God can do this!

God will restore

Sexual abuse causes its own kind of death. Your next step is to begin to risk and to believe that God will restore the life that has been stolen from you. The Shunamite woman appeared again in 2 Kings chapter 8... She had lost all her land holdings due to a famine. She appealed to the king, who had just learned from Elisha's servant that this is the woman whose son had been restored to life. The king then appointed an officer whom he commanded, "Restore all that was hers and all the produce of the field from the day that she left the land even until now" (2 Kings 8:6).

Through the king, God restored what the Shunamite woman had lost. Our caring God is in the restoration business! As you continue to pray, learn, and grow, God can restore you to a life of meaning, purpose and joy. Begin your appeal to the King, Jesus Christ, and allow Him to restore your life.

In your journal, list your dreams and desires that have died because of sexual abuse.

You might have written something along the lines of, "a sense of innocence, the ability to trust again, spontaneity"...

When I did this exercise a year ago, I wrote: "To have a close-knit family. For my kids to have loving relatives. To be able to trust family." As I think about those answers today, I realize that those are actually things I have to contribute to in order to realize them. My "close-knit family/loving relatives" consist of my in-laws (which I chose when I chose my husband) and our friends... And "to be able to trust family" goes back to my choices again -- have I chosen trustworthy people? In order to have these things restored to me, I had to make wise choices and I had to be willing to take a risk on them. I have done both of these things -- and I am overwhelmed by the way these dreams and desires have come true.

One thing that I did not write down as a lost dream or desire a year ago, but today recognize as one is.... I always wanted to be "acceptable" and "well-liked". I certainly wasn't around my house, so I assumed that I wasn't anywhere else either. In the last several months, God has really shown me that that is not true at all! As I have shared before, I have been reconnected with long-lost friends from my childhood and teen years... The memories they are sharing with me are completely repairing the image I have of myself from those days. I am still amazed at how this is even possible - but God is using these old friends to show me that I was never unacceptable or outcast by them.

Do you think the Shunamite woman ever asked "Why me?" or, "If only things could have been different"? Describe any thoughts like these that you may have had, including the circumstances when they occurred.

Your responses may indicate that you are beginning to let yourself feel some grief and loss about the consequences of the abuse. That is good recovery work! Keep it up.

In your journal write your feelings about the losses you have suffered due to sexual abuse.

Isaiah 42:16, "I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth. These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them."

God can be trusted, my friends. I continue to pray for you daily.

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