We frequently meet with clients who relate horrific instances of abuse that happened to them as children. A question many people wrestle with is simple and understandable: “If God loves me and is all-powerful, why didn’t he stop that from happening to me?”
Theologians and pastors dissect this question deeply in books and sermons to their larger audiences. I would like to share how I answer that question, face-to-face, in the context of a counseling session with someone who typically has serious issues they are seeking help to address.
It is important to understand that abuse of any kind is an open door for demonic torment in a person’s life. We have seen people dealing with anger, fear, depression and perversions whose roots can be traced to that instance or season in their life.
As Christian counselors, we are adamant and persistent about convincing our clients that:
- God loves them and is for them not against them
- God wants them to prosper in all ways
- God is not angry with them because of past sin
- God does not bring or allow abuse (or sickness) as a teaching tool or as our “thorn in the flesh” (2 Cor. 12:7)
- God will work to bring good out of everything that happens
- It is the demonic kingdom that works to kill steal and destroy.
Many people have received wrong teaching on this question and others simply attempt to rationalize and make mental sense out of situations that often defy sound analysis! These errors can lead to wrong conclusions and resultant anger and rage towards God that, if not resolved, manifests in physical, mental and emotional torment.
When we address this issue, we do not attempt to apologize on God’s behalf or try to explain why He did not intervene to stop the abuse. We do not support the notion that people might need to forgive God. God does not sin or make mistakes; His ways and thoughts are higher than ours, and we must not lessen his actions to a human level.
We do not have a script or defined response , but the general theme flows as follows:
No one knows why He allowed it to happen! He was able to stop it but did not. The spiritual reality is that there is evil in the world, in the form of demonic spirits who operate through people. When Jesus took back power and authority from Satan, through his death and resurrection from the cross, he returned it to mankind, specifically his Body (the church). He did not keep it for himself, so it is up to us to appropriate the victory and take back what the enemy continues to try to steal.
One thing we know for sure is that Christ was there while the torment was happening, and his heart broke as the your body and soul were being crushed! He did not want to happen, but He allowed it for reasons known only to Him, and the promise is know that He will heal you and bring goodness out of it!
We regularly tweak and customize the response to meet the unique maturity level and needs of each client, but this approach seems to be effective. We want to get them to the place of believing the goodness and grace of God apart from fully understanding the mental and analytical aspects of His ways!
Is this a question you’ve wrestled with in the past, for yourself or others? What answer or revelation helped you the most? We’d love to hear from you and are willing to bring fresh insights into the help we bring to counselees.