It was my third year of college. I began feeling the weight of time–tired, my exhaustion causing the hard things to flood around, swirl and swish and drown. Even though my heart resisted, the necessity of opening the door to my pain was completely evident. Rest would not come without undone. I could no longer hold myself together; my strength was failing, causing my body to feel heavy, my movements to slow.
So I prepared myself to ask that difficult question, one that had been lurking in my soul far longer than I cared to admit. I paused and looked around the room, white walls, unmade beds, desks, floors, dressers covered with the evidence of midterm week. And salt water came pouring out my eyes as I asked, “Lord, where were you during rape?”
I sat in silence, waiting for the answer. I heard nothing and so I waited more.
I asked again with more feeling, “God, where were you during rape?!”
I could not ignore the deafening silence that followed. Anger surged and I resisted. I didn’t want to feel the pain of what I understood as apathy, but I still wanted to know.
I wanted to understand the hard things. I didn’t care about anything else at that moment. I knew, despite my exhaustion, it would be a sleepless night. I could see that this was a Jacob moment. This was a thigh ripping from socket, never walking the same moment. I would not leave without an answer. I refused.
I had heard whispers before, “I was right there…” And all I could ask was “Really?! God, were you really there when I was beaten, when I was raped repeatedly? How in the world could you be there?” I failed to understand. I failed to believe.
It was an area of unbelief, of doubting God’s goodness. It was the place where I could not see. And it was there that I asked God to put the mud over the eyes of my heart, the deepest parts of my soul, and I begged Him to make me see. I asked Him to let me see past the darkness and find joy in His presence. Because if I was really honest with myself, I had forgotten what that felt like. I didn’t even know if I believed in joy anymore.
Peace washed over me as He answered softly, “There are things in this life that you will never understand. I was there when rape happened. My dear child, I see. ” I Inhaled deep, and began releasing control.
Little did I know, it was only the beginning. I had no idea that my eyes would behold the answer to my initial question and finally see.
About two years later, I found myself weeping on a balcony in the middle of nowhere, Albania. Anger had surged seemingly out of nowhere and that same question forced itself off of my lips. “God, where were you during rape?!?!”
It was then that the Lord gave me a vision. It was as if He very tangibly and gently grabbed my hand and said, “Let me show you.” What I saw changed my life forever. In the vision, the Lord brought me to a specific moment of pain. As I saw myself, I felt my emotions begin to rise as they had that day, the pain nearly unbearable. But then something happened. I was no longer an onlooker, He placed me back in that moment and showed me where He was. He was right there, just like He said. Not only that, but He was weeping tears of great sorrow over me, they fell on me with great force. My heart collapsed under the weight of His love and that moment of darkness was completely consumed by His glorious light. I could finally see.
The eyes of my heart were opened.
When the Lord first told me, “I see,” I was slightly confused. I thought the Lord meant that He knew what had happened to me–that He just stood there echoing the haunting words, “you can handle this on your own.” But the Lord brought me clarity in sight. “I see,” does mean He loves me and that He was there, but it also means He has a plan and a purpose for my life that is greater than my understanding of the past. He sees the horrible pain, but He also sees the breathtaking glory. He sees the old, but He also sees the new. He sees every moment from beginning to end.
What about you? Have you ever wondered where God was in a situation? Maybe it was the end of a relationship. Maybe you were abused. Maybe someone you know is fighting an illness. Or maybe they’ve lost the fight. Maybe you were raped.
I don’t claim to have all the answers. I do know, however, that when God showed me where He was in that moment of pain, He brought me more healing than I could ever express. I believe God also wants to bring healing to your moments of pain. And I want to encourage you, dear reader, to ask the hard questions. Allow yourself to feel the anger, the sadness, the grief, and ask Him whatever question has been haunting you. He wants to answer you. He wants to show you Himself. He wants to make you new.