“God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him” (1 John 4: 16).
The image we have of God is greatly influenced by the childhood experience with our own fathers, and the men who – willingly or not – filled that role in our lives. We view God as possessing all their faults while, at the same time, blaming Him for those faults.
Abuse necessarily darkens the lens through which we see God.
If our fathers were absent, chances are we will see God as absent and unconcerned for our welfare. If the men with whom we had relationships as children were hard and critical of us, we are likely to see God as harsh and judgmental.
If our fathers were cruel and sadistic, or molested us under the guise of “love”, we may see God as cruel or deceptive, and turn our backs on Him entirely. After all, He turned His on us first. Didn’t He?
Incest survivors may be threatened by the very concept of God as a “father” . It speaks to us not of love and protection, but of violation. The Bible though uses many different images for God. These include our Shield (Ps. 3: 3), our Rock (Ps. 18: 2), our Shepherd (Ps. 23: 1), our Healer (Ps. 30: 2), and our Protector (Ps. 78: 23-29).
The Gospel is transformative for abuse victims, in this regard. The lens is wiped clean. We can for the first time see God clearly.
And we can see ourselves in a new light. Our true value, long clouded by abuse, is suddenly clear. For many of us, the impact of this is akin to forgiveness and equally powerful.
Forgiveness is like rain in the desert to abuse victims. We long for it, as if parched. This is not because we were, in any way, at fault for the abuse. We seek expiation for the sins inflicted upon us. Picture a child continually scrubbing at a non-existent stain.
With God, our lives are recast in a different mold . A new paradigm applies. We can lay down the burden of abuse, and head in a new direction.
That, by itself, could make re-examining our childhood view of God worthwhile.
 God may heal our wounds, but will not always remove our scars. Our lives will no longer have to be centered on abuse. However, the emotional and psychological damage done to us can linger. God will uphold us, despite this.
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