She had no say about spending the night with him. A young woman without any sexual experience, she was now one in a long line of women that, night after night, he slept with.
They hated him so much they wanted him dead. Older and stronger than him, they abducted him. Then—instead of killing him—they sold him into human trafficking.
A slave without rights, her married owner had sex with her on the side while his wife mistreated her. Eventually, after bearing a child, she was cast off to fend for herself.
She was manipulated by a man who was obsessed with her. Once he had her alone, he took her by force and raped her.
Day after day we read stories of victimization and violence—of the powerless being used and abused by the powerful. But the stories you just read aren’t ripped from the headlines; they’re drawn from Scripture.
It was young Esther who, alongside other sequestered young women, had to spend a “trial” night with the powerful King Xerxes (Esther 2).
It was Joseph whose older brothers stripped him, threw him in a pit, and sold him into slavery (Genesis 37:18–28).
It was Tamar who was raped by her own half brother, Amnon (2 Samuel 13).
For those who are survivors of abuse or other forms of victimization, there is a beautiful hope interwoven in these ugly stories from Scripture. It is a hope that says, though you may feel alone and abandoned, God sees you. Though it may feel impossible to understand why, God can yet work in and through your pain. Though it hurts immeasurably, God is close to you in your heartache. And ultimately it is a hope that says: your past does not define you.
In this issue’s cover story, Joy Beth Smith examines what it looks like for women to overcome abuse’s painful residue. And “I Was Raped” recounts a woman’s personal story of sexual assault and her long journey toward healing.
Scripture is peopled with ugly pasts. For some it was ugliness done to them while for others it was ugliness done by them. But that ugliness of the past, Scripture tells says, is what we were (1 Corinthians 6:11). God’s powerful grace says of our futures: “Anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!” (2 Corinthians 5:17).
You may have a past like Esther, Joseph, Hagar, or Tamar. Or you may have a past in which you wielded power by victimizing others.
Whatever your past, it does not define you.
Kelli B. Trujillo
Follow me at @kbtrujillo and @TCWomancom
Your Past Does Not Define You
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