How God Restores a Victim of Abuse

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The pathos of her situation is made dramatically clear in this understated passage. The words "went on crying" illustrate the continuing, ongoing nature of the mourning process those who have been victimized by abuse experience. It's not over even when the incident is "over." For them the crying goes on and on and on.

Tamar didn't cry for a while and then stop. She went on crying. She went on weeping. She went on grieving.

I know that women victims everywhere can relate to the feelings of isolation, helplessness, hopelessness and impotent fury that this passage describing Tamar conveys. She "went on" with her life, but she was crying. She "went on" with a brave face on the outside but a broken heart on the inside.

Women everywhere, like Tamar, have "gone on"--but they have gone on crying. And like Tamar, many of them have experienced the ultimate tragedy related to abuse: the inability or reluctance to reveal what happened to them.

The Scriptures tell us that Tamar's own brother encouraged her to keep quiet about Amnon's indiscretion. "And Absalom her brother said to her, 'Has Amnon your brother been with you? But now hold your peace, my sister. He is your brother; do not take this thing to heart'" (v. 20, NKJV).

This conspiracy of secrecy is the final indignity heaped upon Tamar. It is the same dynamic that operates in many families in which abuse has taken place. The victim does not have even the solace of truth for comfort. Incident after incident occurs, but each one is accompanied by the explicit or understood rule: Don't tell.

Look at the terrible toll this stance took on Tamar: "So Tamar remained desolate in her brother Absalom's house" (v. 20). Because her brother told her not to tell, she stayed where she was. She couldn't move out or away from that place in her life. She stayed in the same place she was the day the crime was committed against her.

Free From Pain How many women survivors of abuse who are reading these words recognize that they too have remained broken, grieving, isolated, bitter and alone inside their "houses" and have not been able to get out? If you are one of them, don't despair. God has a word of renewal for you!

Tamar's story is included in the Bible in all its sordid detail because God wants you to know that He has seen the needs of wounded women. He has felt your pain.

He has provided His Word to let you know that you are not alone. He has put your story in His Word so you will know that just as surely as He has included the problem, He has included the answer as well.

Great texts in the Bible tell us story after story of leading women who are empowering mentors and role models to us in this modern day. Many of Jesus' great miracles were done for women, women who in biblical times had no place in the religious hierarchy and whom the disciples often tried to send away from the Master. We can find positive images for ourselves in the Scriptures to seize upon as proof that we are "highly favored of God."

I encourage you to read and study the life stories of the women recorded in Scripture. You'll see that God used many of them in spite of their socially unacceptable backgrounds and negative life experiences!

You can celebrate the life of Ruth, the alien and non-citizen who married Boas and became the great-grandmother of David, the greatest king in the history of Israel. Find your life story in the account of Rahab, the harlot of Jericho, who became the ancestor of Jesus himself!

Identify with Mary Magdalene, who had a bad reputation and an attitude to match but who was the first to meet Jesus at the tomb and become the herald of the Resurrection. Or think about the woman at the well, with her documented history of six failed relationships--a social outcast who became the greatest evangelist mentioned in the Scripture, bringing the whole town to "come, see a Man" (John 4:29).

All these are life-lifting, esteem-building records of what God can do in the lives of broken and rejected women. But I want to leave you with the formula for victory over the battering of esteem our spirits have been subjected to: the woman with the issue of blood (Matt. 9:20-22).

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