Then I said, “Here I am, I have come—it is written about me in the scroll." Psalm 40:7
Updated: Oct 25, 2020
It really doesn't get much darker than the sexual abuse of children. Studies have shown repeatedly the long term psychological damage done to childhood sexual trauma victims is pervasive and deep. A high number of victims develop psychiatric disorders in adulthood. Is there anything that can redeem this horrendous crime? Anything that can shine light into the darkness of a childhood sexual abuse victim's murky shadows? While psychiatric disorders can be successfully treated medically, how does one bring healing to the deep scars and wounds of the soul? Only One can do this. The prophets of old prophesied of One to come, several hundreds of years before a man appeared in Israel known as Jesus of Nazareth. In fact, the book of the prophet Isaiah is believed to have been written some 700 years before Jesus lived. These Bible verses are a prophecy of Christ through the prophet Isaiah. In the gospel of Luke, we read Jesus went to the synagogue in Nazareth, His hometown. He was handed the scroll of the prophet Isaiah. He read this passage: Isaiah 63:1-2 “The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners,
to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor. Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down.The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him. He began by saying to them,“Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing."" (Luke 4:18-20). That’s so glorious in itself, but the Isaiah passage goes on, “and the day of vengeance of our God. To comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion--to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendor.” I find that passage so incredibly sublimely beautiful. And that’s exactly what Messiah does for those who will believe. Beauty from ashes. At the time Isaiah wrote this prophecy in ancient Israel, people would put ashes on their heads as a visible sign of grief and mourning. So the prophet is saying the Messiah can take even the worst grief, the most horrible of sadnesses, and bring beauty from them.
What does this mean for victims of childhood sexual abuse and other types of emotional trauma? It means He’s always there. No matter what. And if one will reach out and accept His free gift of grace, there’s no doubt He takes what the evil one meant for destruction and turns it into something beautiful. It's not the abuse itself He turns into beauty. The abuse will always be ugly, twisted and gnarly. And the damage from the abuse He doesn't take completely away. There are biological and physiological changes that take place in a traumatized person's brain.
But it is the soul of the traumatized person He turns into something beautiful. Something that will show God's glory. An oak tree is one of the strongest trees that exist. And the prophet says the person who trusts in Christ will be called an "oak of righteousness" planted by God Himself to show His glory.
One thing to add. What I am NOT saying. I am NOT saying, "come to Christ and all your pain and suffering will cease." A very cursory look at Scripture will show following Him involves suffering. Sometimes quite intense suffering. The suffering of the excruciating pain of death on a cross. It ain't all kittens and roses. As a former pastor of mine once said, (probably quoting someone else--just sayin..) "Life is hard. But God is good." Beauty from ashes, indeed.