Story of Hope: The God of Justice

Be Advised: The following contains statistics and the telling of true events concerning sexual assault.

Every 68 seconds, someone in America is sexually assaulted.[1]

More than 1 in 3 women and nearly 1 in 4 men experience sexual violence during their lifetime.[2]

What is sexual violence?

Sexual activity when consent is not obtained or not freely given. The perpetrator of sexual violence is usually someone known to the victim, such as a friend, current or former intimate partner, coworker, neighbor, or family member.[3]

According to these statistics, many in our own church family have been victims of sexual violence. Thousands, actually. The following tells of just one.

Photo by Molly Blackbird on Unsplash

In early 2019, Stephanie* went out with coworkers for dinner and drinks.

“I woke up the next morning at my boss’s house. He showed me pictures of myself and said if I ever told anyone what happened, he would release them. After that, he continued showing the pictures to me at work, reminding me that if I ever take this to the authorities, he’ll ruin me. I was hopeless. It would be my word against his.”

In the pain of her assault — and constant torment from her assailant — Stephanie began to drown in anxiety. Engulfed in shame, she cut herself off from family and friends. After months of suffering in isolation, she feared the only escape would be to end her life.

Then she got an idea — a way to get away from it all.

In 2020, she was accepted into the interview process to be a flight attendant with Delta Airlines. “I finally felt like God was seeing me.” But two days before her interview, the opportunity was yanked away in the wake of the COVID-19 shutdowns.

This was only the first blow 2020 would deliver. In August, Stephanie reconnected with an old friend and became a victim of sexual violence for the second time.

“At this point, I just gave up. I told God I couldn’t do it anymore. I had no will to live.”

Some sat in darkness and in the shadow of death, prisoners in affliction and in irons…they fell down, with none to help. –Psalm 107:10; 12b

It was there, in the shadow of her assault, Stephanie cried out to the God she’d learned about in church as a child. “Please, I need to see your hand in my life. I have nowhere else to go. I can’t do this on my own.” As the Psalmist continues, we can imagine what happened next.

Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble and he delivered them from their distress. He brought them out of darkness and the shadow of death, and burst their bonds apart. Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man! — Psalm 107:13–15

“He changed my whole life. He got me out of that job. He stripped away every harmful person in my life and replaced them with a church family that supports me, friends who breathe life into me. He filled me with peace, saying, ‘Don’t worry. I’ll take care of you.’

Stephanie cried, and God answered. As the Psalm proclaims, He shattered the chains that had held her in darkness. Set her free from fear. From hopelessness. From despair. Her Savior mended her every broken piece and created her anew in Him — a transformation that left no place for the shame that had once imprisoned her.

In the arms of the God who restored her, Stephanie discovered the strength to seek justice.

Instead of your shame there shall be a double portion; instead of dishonor they shall rejoice in their lot…For I the Lord love justice; I hate robbery and wrong. — Isaiah 61:7a-8a

“I was assaulted by people I knew and trusted, and I felt wrong about reporting it because I worried about their careers and lives. And I know so many other women feel the same way I did. That’s exactly what the devil wants you to believe — that you’re in the wrong. But I was the victim. And I believe God wants me to advocate for myself so I can help other women stand up for themselves, too.”

If you’ve been the victim of sexual violence, you don’t have to stay silent. Like Stephanie, you are beloved by the God of justice. The God who fights for you — who longs to restore you.

As you take this courageous step toward healing, Stephanie needs you to know:

“God is standing up for you. With Him before, behind, and all around you, who can come against you? Even when it looks dark and there’s no light, He will never leave you or forsake you. He’ll walk with you through the storm.”

As Stephanie experienced firsthand, God is with you, and He’s for you. Though justice may feel out of reach when the “arrogant” and “wicked” seem to prosper in this life (Ps. 73:3), in God’s sovereignty we’ll one day see He has set them in slippery places, causing them to fall in their time (v. 18).

For behold, those who are far from you shall perish; you put an end to everyone who is unfaithful to you. But for me it is good to be near God; I have made the Lord God my refuge. — Psalm 73:18;27–28a

So, in His own words, “let justice roll down like waters” (Amos 5:24).

Written by Melaina Jaeger
Published by Woodside Bible Church,
www.woodsidebible.org

For resources on finding help after sexual assault, visit the National Sexual Violence Resource Center online, where you can access a directory of sexual violence advocacy organizations by state. To speak with an advocate anytime, contact the 24/7 National Sexual Assault Hotline at 800–656-HOPE or via online chat. These services are confidential and available at no cost. For more information about these resources, visit the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network.

*In light of ongoing legal proceedings, a pseudonym has been used to protect identity.

References:
[1] Rape, Abuse, & Incest National Network (RAINN) https://www.rainn.org/
[2] U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration https://www.dea.gov/stories/2021/2021-04/2021-04-14/sexual-assault-awareness-prevention-month
[3] U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration https://www.dea.gov/stories/2021/2021-04/2021-04-14/sexual-assault-awareness-prevention-month

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Woodside Bible Church

Woodside Bible Church

We exist to help people belong to Christ, grow in Christ, and reach the world for Christ across Southeast Michigan and the globe.