When a grievous situation persists beyond all capacity to endure it, victims of abuse can reach a point of hopelessness.

Those who have never been abused may wonder how that is even possible. Human beings were created with hope engineered into their genes. Each breath we take is a hopeful act. Each morning brings a new dawn.

But if each night brings with it the same terrors – groping hands, broken dishes and broken bones – we may abandon hope. Either that or decide hope is a sham – a delusion by evolution to induce our continued existence in the face of intolerable conditions, or the cruel hoax of an uncaring God who has long since abandoned us.

You can tell when a woman has given up hope. Violence will do that. Poverty will do it. You can see the light go out of a child’s eyes. Neglect will do that. Cruelty will do it, especially cruelty by those “nearest and dearest”.

Once hope is gone, it can be extremely difficult to restore. We dare not trust in the possibility that life may get better. We have been too often disappointed, too often disillusioned.

Counterfeit Christianity

Two brothers in upstate New York, Christopher and Lucas Leonard, ages 17 and 19, were this week beaten so severely by their parents and the members of a so called “Christian” sect that the elder died of internal injuries [1]. Bruce and Deborah Leonard have been charged with first degree manslaughter in the death of their son.

Most people will find this degree of cruelty and violence hard to grasp. It was certainly not, in any sense, Christian. Victims should not be misled by counterfeit religions labeling themselves “Christian”, but misrepresenting the brand.

Real Hope

Christianity does bear on the issue of hope.

While Job and others whose stories are told in the Bible at times lost hope, the word “hopeless” appears only once in the Bible (NKJV), in the Book of Jeremiah where Israel rejects God’s warning to forsake evil ways (Jer. 18: 12). Everywhere else, over 150 times, the word used is “hope”.

Hope is what God extends to abuse victims. The hope He offers is not a veneer of cheerfulness, to be plastered over their wounds. Nor is it a promise that victims’ scars will be erased. It is the very real hope their lives may yet be restored.

What God promises is that He will make it possible for victims to transcend their suffering; that He will reconfigure their lives in ways they cannot imagine while still in the depths of their despair.

God promises to give us beauty for ashes, and the oil of joy for mourning (Is. 61: 3). The exchange is prompted by His great love for us. That love is the antithesis of the harm inflicted on the Leonard brothers and other abuse victims…but the foundation for our hope.

Be of good courage, And He shall strengthen your heart, All you who hope in the Lord” (Ps. 31: 24).

[1] The New York Times, “Glimpses Inside Secretive Sect after Killing at Upstate New York Church” by Jesse McKinley and Benjamin Mueller, 10/14/15, http://www.nytimes.com/2015/10/15/nyregion/lucas-leonard-beating-death-at-upstate-new-york-church.html?_r=0.



Filed under Child Abuse, Christianity, Emotional Abuse, Neglect, Physical Abuse, Poverty, Prostitution, Religion, Sexual Abuse, Slavery, Violence Against Women

10 responses to “Hope

  1. Good post. I have heard hope described as desperation. I believe in hope as you describe it, the light within us all, the God within us all. We are in charge of turning it on or off, and as often as it takes to keep it on eventually. I think the biggest thing we hope for is a reason for the pain of abuse. When we lose hope, I think nothing stands to improve and we lose faith in the divine order of our lives.

  2. ajppobrien

    Now that is what I call Heartbreaking.

  3. nessa3

    I had an abusive upbringing ,parents, sexual abused by two men, and still found hope. Then I left and abusive church three years ago …Im in counselling but cant find the hope anymore…its a cruel joke…the carrot …and Im to tired of reaching out for it…wanting to believe it is tangible… like the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow…

  4. Dear Anna, Paul wrote that these three; faith, hope and love, will remain after all other things have ceased. I have had faith in Christ that He loves me and would never leave me for 45 years, but only two years ago He brought me back to my First Love, my deep love for Him and others in whom He dwells. Then just recently I was feeling so forlorn and hopeless in a situation I was in and somehow I felt lead to pray for hope! So I did. I asked our Father to give me hope that things would change for the better in the days ahead and it was as if I saw a big hole in my heart and He then filled the hole that was there with divine hope. I have had such peace ever since. Funny how we pray for love for the unlovely and faith to believe, but why had it never occurred to me to pray for hope? What a precious thing hope is. It is like what Jesus said about peace He would give us that surpasses all understanding. His hope is not limited by the conditions we are in, but reaches beyond that and brings us into heavenly places IN Christ. Oh, what peace.

    God bless you my dear sister,

  5. Anna, this is such a spot on post and written so well. Without hope we have nothing to live for. As true believers we know that every person, believers or not, are created in God’s image. All should be treated as such but we know in a fallen world millions or billions aren’t. God can mend and heal hearts through Jesus. May we be burning lights of His love and embrace when we can. Wonderful post!!!

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