Job had friends, like we do, who believe that a person gets what they deserve in life. That is true many times, but not all times in life. Sometimes you get much more than you deserve, as we can see in God giving us His only begotten Son and that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Sometimes you get much less than you deserve. Something terrible happens and you did not deserve it—and it was not your fault. We all tend to fall into the false thinking that it might be our fault if something bad happens to us, that we caused it. Much of life is cause and effect, but not all of life. Job had friends who tried to supposedly comfort him with these same thoughts but they were rebuked by God.
People do the same thing when it comes to rape. We think the same way that Job’s friends did—that you got what you de- served or caused—and we tell the woman who was raped that somehow she was at fault too. “You should have done this in- stead of that”; “You should not have dressed that way”; “You should not have been there by yourself”; “You should not have dated him”; or “You must have done something to encourage him or cause this.” We try to comfort, like Job’s three friends, but end up condemning women instead. We accuse; we blame the victim and not the victimizer. It’s easy to say that, but we are dead wrong at times.
Maybe you’ve been thinking that about your own experience without realizing it. You actually started believing that it was your fault. You blame yourself. You became your own worst enemy and now, like Job, you need to hear God speak His words to you and ignore some of your well-meaning friends or your own thoughts. We just don’t know why some things happen as they do but God alone knows—as He tells Job in Job 40:8–14 and 41:11.
Job rightfully claimed his innocence in this book; what happened to him was not his fault. Rape was not your fault either. You did not cause or deserve it. God tells us the reason for rape: “each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed” (James 1:14). Put blame where blame is due.
Please give your confusion and hurt to God. He can heal you from your rape, since He heals the broken-hearted. That is what happened to Job. He survived and recovered even though he never found out “why” his children, possessions, and health were all taken away. Your trust, dignity, sanity, confidence, peace, and joy were all taken away, along with a lot of other things. I understand. God does too.
One thing that was not taken away was Job’s trust and faith in God. Yes, he struggled with his ups and downs, as you will. But he also overcame evil with good (Rom. 12:21) and Job is the one who said “Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him” (Job 13:15). That won’t happen overnight but it can happen with you. Bringing your pain to God, just like Job did, is the only way to recover from rape.
This post is adapted from from Sensitive Preaching to the Sexually Hurting by Sam Serio. If you are interested in adopting this book for a college or seminary course, please request a faculty examination copy. We will also consider requests for your blog or media outlets.
The Gospel Coalition 2016 Ministry Book of the Year!
Today’s church has sadly failed to minister to men and women deeply affected by porn, abortion, rape, casual sex, a sexless marriage, same-sex attraction, or childhood sexual abuse. Church leaders know these broken people sit in their pews. What they don’t know is what to say to them. Those who would speak out directly from the pulpit worry that they will be unwise or insensitive, whatever their intent to the contrary. They may even fear being fired and losing their ministry altogether.
The truth is that seminary curriculums rarely prepare preachers to talk about sex in their sermons. Despite the pervasiveness of sexual wounds in the church, preachers tend to either ignore them and say nothing or abhor them without nuance and condemn. Sam Serio posits a powerful and necessary middle ground: preaching that offers forgiveness, transformation, and restoration.
Sensitive Preaching to the Sexually Hurting is a ready-to-use resource written from a preaching perspective. Serio examines the causes and consequences of the seven most difficult sexual issues of today. Moreover, he provides appropriate wording to use in crafting sermons, along with corresponding Scripture texts. He examines how preachers can prepare their churches, their hearts, and their sermons for the topic, and how these can all work together to build a healthier future for their congregations and the wider church body.