“Why would God allow that to happen?” That to me is the most difficult question I’ve been asked as a Christian. It’s easy to respond with the typical, “God’s ways are not our ways;” “God is sovereign;” “The mysteries belong to God;” or even “I have no idea, ask God” – each response acceptable but the day I fielded this question, I knew that any of those responses wouldn’t fly with this broken, young Christian woman struggling to find her way as a new believer. I knew her continued relationship with the Lord hung precariously on whether I’d be able to offer some kind of clarity to something that had hurt her so deeply and threatened to drive a wedge between her and the Lord.
And so I sat in my kitchen with Elizabeth as she flat ironed my hair, chatting away. The conversation soon turned serious as she grew comfortable enough to drop her guard, allowing me access to a situation which threatened to alter her perception of the love of God. I began to pray as her story spilled out….
Elizabeth was a single mother struggling to make ends meet. Her ex-husband was paying child support which she greatly relied on, although it was still barely enough to sustain her and their daughter. He used child support as leverage in order to get his way at every turn. He was due to pick his daughter up on a Friday and didn’t show up when he said he would so Elizabeth put her down for the night. The phone rang at around 9:00p.m. or so and it was him saying he would be picking her up by 10:30. Elizabeth explained that their daughter was already in bed and he could pick her up early the next day. He grew belligerent and insisted that he be allowed to at least see her and after a shouting match, Elizabeth relented. She hung up the phone angry that she had given in, and feeling uneasy about him coming over. When he arrived his motives were made clear to Elizabeth when soon after he gained entrance, he began to interrogate her regarding her male friendships. Their exchange became violent, first with a push, which escalated to a slap and further escalated with her being raped by him. No, she didn’t press charges…she still relied on his support and he was her daughter’s father, but imagine the shock and then utter devastation to discover that as a result of that act of violence, she was pregnant again. There was no way she could afford another child and the thought that this child was unwelcomed pierced her heart. She considered abortion as an alternative but before doing so, she went to her church for counsel, where she received the most ungodly counsel imaginable. She was told that since this child was not conceived in love, it would be okay for her to terminate the pregnancy. She left that session as confused as ever; however as confused as she was, she just knew that advice was wrong. Unfortunately, stress did what her conscience forbid and she miscarried that baby, which took care of her immediate “problem,” while leaving her hanging on the ledge where her faith and trust in God were concerned…and here I was at the end of her story handing her tissue, poised to field the most difficult question ever! “If God loves me, why would He allow that to happen to me?”
While she was speaking, I was praying, seeking and inquiring of the Lord how best to respond to his daughter. I asked her simply if she at any time had a “feeling”– church folk call it an “unction,” that she should stick to her decision not to allow him to come over that night. “Yes,” she said. “Did it get stronger when he appeared at your door?” She said that by the time he appeared at the door, she was downright scared to open it. I explained to her that I believe that was the Lord speaking to her…warning her… through that “feeling” and through her fear to open the door. She was pensive for a few minutes and truthfully, with every fiber within me, I believed I told her correctly, but still held my breath waiting for her reaction. She accepted that explanation. I also showed her how on point she was to second guess the “advice” she was given by the church counselor and explained to her how God was speaking to her in that situation. I encouraged her telling her that God loves her; He’s speaking all the time and though she may not have heeded his warning that one fateful night, she does hear from Him, as evidenced by her decision not to terminate her pregnancy.
God is always speaking and warning, but if we don’t have “ears to hear,” then He’s speaking to Himself. Elizabeth floated in and out of my life just that quickly and I think of her often, hoping that she’s been able to strengthen her relationship with the Lord. She is a trophy of His grace and I pray that she is lifting His name up and drawing other women, who like her have faced difficult times, have made difficult choices, but can say that God loved them enough to show them how to be slow to speak and quick to listen; how to be led by His Spirit; how to trust Him for all that is lacking; how to rely on Him, His strength, His wisdom, His power to sustain and maintain them.
“For great is His love toward us, and the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever.” Psalm 117:2 NIV