By Albert Kang
Mary (not her real name) came for counseling after she heard my Sunday’s message on how God can heal inner hurts and pains. The prim and proper lady in her mid-thirties sat facing me and next to her was one of our lady associate pastors. In a stoic manner, she shared her inner struggles as if she was talking about someone else’s pain. Her gaze was at the table in front of her but she was actually looking down the hallway of time and memory. Her pain was hidden by the walls she had so successfully built up over the years. As she droned on, tragic tales of being raped and violated by the one whom she trusted – her father.
I advised her to avoid the detailed descriptions and took that short interruption to pray for her. Then the crack came – a soft sobbing amidst the prayer. When I opened my eyes, I saw tears streaming down her cheeks.
Mary’s hurt was deep… very deep indeed – too deep to even weep about it. She was not only violated at a very young age but when she told her mother about the rape, she was promptly blamed for her father’s offense. In fact, her mother was so afraid of him that there was absolutely no confrontation to resolve the matter.
For years, Mary was treated by her parents as, in her own words, “the blood-sucking witch of the family”. Within her hurting heart, she reluctantly accepted all the blames and unfair treatments. The sexual abuse did not stop until she was 17 and only after she went to stay with her grandmother in another part of Singapore.
At the time of counseling, Mary was about 35 years old and her mother had since passed away. Her father had had a stroke and she and her only brother placed him in a nursing home. Mary came back three more times for counseling and prayer. Her disposition was getting better with each visit. Subsequently, she was able to look at us in the eyes and even smiled. Something had happened inside this lady. Some emotional walls had crumbled and come crashing down. In fact, God was doing His healing miracles – transforming those walls to become bridges.
What happened next shocked all of us. One Sunday, Mary, along with her brother, wheeled a feeble elderly man in a wheelchair into our church service. I suspected it was her father but that was too much of a miracle for me to take in one gasp. What type of forgiveness was that? Later, I learned that Mary had taken the forgiveness from God and offered it to her father. Her father wept and begged her forgiveness, she said. A full reconciliation followed suit, and that day saw the power of God’s love in action. Mary’s father subsequently accepted Jesus as his Lord. Another piece of good news is that Mary is now married and has become a mother of two children.
This is one of the most amazing inner healing cases that I have ever encountered. Why was Mary able to forgive her father? Why was she able to stop blaming herself? How did she overcome her fear of men and got happily married to one of our church leaders?
Here are six things that Mary did after she received the healing Word of God.
1. Her Pain Was Real
After Mary heard the Word of God that Sunday, she refused to ignore her inner hurts and pains any more. For years, she had buried these under piles of work. As long as she kept herself busy, she could easily shove them away. Whenever she found a solitary moment, depression hit her. Self-hatred and self-blame became the order of that instance. She had become so tired of being controlled by such negative thoughts that she followed her friend’s advice to seek help and attend our church. By refusing to lie to herself, she took the first step to recovery.
2. Her Blame Was Real
Silently, Mary blamed herself for all the tragic events. She hated herself as much as she hated her parents. When her mother passed away, she did not shed a single drop of tears. She felt that she was not the ideal daughter to her mother. She said that in a way, she was happy that her mother was no longer around to make her feel guilty. She discovered that she had also indirectly blamed her brother for not protecting her. All these barriers were torn down after she spent time with the Lord following the first counseling session. Each time the depressive thoughts came, she rebuked them in the name of Jesus. She actually stood up and commanded these thoughts to leave because all the past hurts and pains had been carried by Jesus on the Cross. She declared loudly that they had no hold over her!
3. Her Fear Was Real
Being an intelligent person, Mary noticed that she was behaving different from all her colleagues and friends. Each time the girls in the office talked about guys, she would excuse herself to the toilet. She was afraid of men and wanted nothing to do with them. When her male boss talked to her, she would look at the floor. To numb her pain, she quietly drank alcohol in her own bedroom so as to avoid being discovered by her brother. She only stopped drinking when for a couple of mornings she was too sick to go to work. The hangovers were getting the best of her. Having a healthy relationship with a man was definitely not on her list of needs. Men, to her, were just too untrustworthy and dangerous to mess with.
4. Her God Is Real
When Mary came to accept Jesus Christ as her Saviour, she had become quite desperate. Suicidal thoughts had become too regular for her to ignore. She finally confided with a friendly Christian colleague. The thought of having God as her Heavenly Father was difficult at first. The only father she knew had abused her; how different could this Heavenly Father be? Through regular encouragement from her cell members and her own prayers, Mary had learned to love this Heavenly Father and become very attached to Him. The best part was that she was willing to obey every word of the Bible, although many of those scriptures caused her great discomfort. I believe that it was her genuine desire and sincere faith in God that helped her recover so rapidly.
5. Her Hope Is Real
Mary has learned a powerful secret of recovery: hope in Jesus. She said that the Lord had gone through far worse than what she had ever done. She recognized that she could bring all her sins and shames to the Cross and that was what she frequently did. During her recovery, Mary was regularly comforted by 1 Peter 1:3-7 that speak of the fact that we may suffer some trials in this life but God “… in His great mercy, has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade”.
6. Her Security Is Real
Today, Mary’s security is in God even though she appreciates her supportive husband and all the encouragement and love given by Christian brothers and sisters. Her father has gone to be with Lord. Her brother has migrated to Canada. Mary is actively serving God with her family in the new church that her husband pioneered. She gives thanks to God for fully restoring her in both emotion and spirit. She says, her miraculous recovery is best described by Psalm 18:16 - “He reached down from on high and took hold of me, He drew me out of deep waters”.