I haven’t been at this ministry long, but long enough to have noticed a recent trend. I’m hearing from more and more women about sexual harassment, sexual abuse and sexual assault. Some want prayer for a friend or family member who has suffered in one of these ways. Some want to lament a sex scandal in the news, often saying “I can’t believe it” in one breath and “I’m not surprised” in the next. (I can relate.) And some are brave enough to confide in me their own experience of sexual harm in the hopes that I may offer a compassionate word, invoke God’s healing presence, or simply bear witness to their pain.
Yet one of these survivors wanted me to bear witness to something more - her faith and God’s miraculous working in her life. She had fallen away from Christianity for a decade or so and then returned to church, prayer and reading Scripture. Almost immediately she began remembering an incident of childhood sexual abuse that she had repressed. It was as if the more she sought after God, the more the memories surfaced. This of course brought with it a world of hurt and confusion and the need for therapy. But she knew God was the one bringing it to light, and God was the one to help her heal.
This woman’s experience is not unique. As we walk in the light, God brings things to light, including ugly truths. These truths may be about ourselves, our past, our circumstances, or even the underbelly of society. Many champions of social justice are moved to take up their cause because God gives them eyes to see and the courage to not look away.
The Apostle Paul writes in Ephesians that “everything exposed by the light becomes visible, for everything that becomes visible is light.” (5:13-14). I’ve never been able to quite wrap my mind around this verse, but I take it to mean that God can redeem even the gravest and most sinful situation, as long as it comes out of shadows and into the healing light of Christ.
We’re in a time when all manner of hate and perversion and oppression are coming to light. All sorts of victims are speaking up. When it comes to the #MeToo movement, most women I’ve talked to have had one or more #MeToo moments of varying degrees. I certainly have.
This is a season to lay claim to Paul’s words. To bring the ugly truth face-to-face with the One who calls himself the Truth (and the Way and the Life). His light burns brightly in the darkest corners of our lives and in the world. It’s a beacon of hope, a call to look at what’s illuminated, and an invitation to fan the flame.