Mercy Reprised

“Divine Mercy” painting in the sanctuary of the same name, Vilnius, Lithuania, Author Alma Pater (CC BY-SA 3.0 Unported,  2.5 Generic, 2.0 Generic, and 1.0 Generic)

There are 275 references to mercy, like this one, in the New King James Version of the Bible [1]:

Therefore know that the Lord your God, He is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and mercy for a thousand generations with those who love Him and keep His commandments…” (Deut. 7: 9).

If our emotions were not dampened by abuse – suppressed so that we could better endure the pain – we are likely to feel great compassion for other victims.

But abuse victims have difficulty applying mercy to themselves.  We do not, generally, see ourselves as qualifying for pity.

  • We should have known better than to be alone with our abuser…no matter that he was a loved one from whom it was natural to crave attention and positive feedback.
  • We should have realized what would happen…no matter that we were too young to understand.
  • We should have found a way to avoid the abuse inflicted on us…no matter that our abuser was an adult, capable of manipulating us and our circumstances.
  • We should have figured out how to make the abuse stop…no matter that our abuser had all the power, yet showed us no mercy.

This is our thinking.  These were our sins, sins for which we continue to punish ourselves to the present day.  Some of us even blame ourselves for “causing” the abuse.

Turn Yourself to me, and have mercy on me, For I am desolate and afflicted” (Ps. 25: 16).

But this thinking is flawed.  And these were not really sins on our part.  Nor were they fatal errors in judgment.  We were children, with all the limitations of children.  We trusted those who were supposed to protect and care for us.

If we hate ourselves over the abuse, blame ourselves, those emotions are misplaced.  We absorbed them from our abusers.  In fact, they blind us to the reality that we had no control over the situation.  We were simply pawns in a game that allowed our abusers to express their twisted desires or vent their rage, at our expense.

Surely, for that we deserve mercy.

I will be glad and rejoice in Your mercy, For You have considered my trouble; You have known my soul in adversities…” (Ps. 31: 7).


[1]  Some may argue that a merciful God would not allow innocents to suffer.  However, to ensure that, free will would have to be constrained.

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12 Comments

Filed under Child Abuse, Christianity, Emotional Abuse, Neglect, Physical Abuse, Religion, Sexual Abuse

12 responses to “Mercy Reprised

  1. Excellent post Anna,and your commentary regarding how abuse victims blame themselves underscores something that I have long thought about.

    Chiefly, that there could hardly be more certain proof of the existence of evil,or in the language of the Christian…Satan,than to witness the devastating weight of unmerited guilt and all of its life draining consequences as it constantly pulls its victims to the depths of despair.

    Call it blame,guilt,or whatever you wish. The end result is the same: a life shattered and forever enslaved in the vicious cycle of “what if’s” and “if only’s”.

    This is evil personified. Mental torture from which we are incapable of escape,except we turn to Christ and his love. For it is Christ and Christ alone who has the power to make all things new,including all of us.

    Programs,counseling,therapy,all have there place in the healing process yet they all have limitations. Not so our Savior, whose matchless and limitless love can overcome every evil act and all manner of demented atrocities committed by man.

    How wonderful it would be if man would extend grace and mercy as he should to victims of abuse rather than affix blame. Unfortunately,man is choosing instead to widen the gulf between himself and the Author of grace and mercy. Be that as it may, God’s ear is open to the cry of the abused and tormented, and his response is always one of tender mercy.

    Have a blessed day Anna,

    You are greatly loved

    • An eloquent and powerful statement, Ron. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. You are a blessing to me. I pray that abuse victims may all one day know how greatly they are loved by God.

  2. Great post, I pray it will help others who struggle with the baggage abuse victims carry.. God Bless you Anna, for reaching out and sharing wisdom.

  3. Thank you Anna for sharing this post. Being merciful to myself used to be the hardiest things to do. I grow up hating everything about me from within and had been beating myself so hard emotionally until I understand and feel God’s mercy through other people.I did nothing but cry and the tears made me see the well.It is not an easy journey because the hatred, the fear and the shame that inhabits my soul are so deep rooted that I need everyday of God’s mercy to help me uproot it. Giving mercy to myself is the only way I can be merciful to others who are going through the same. Thank you again;
    Aui

  4. Thank you Anna and I agree, for many years I thought I was to blame but this had been reinforced by an Adult when I was 10 although there had been others from the age of 3, when I told her what had been done to me this time, she said because it was her father that I had encouraged him and that I was a slut. This is why when I was not yet 15 and when raped by a Doctor I did not tell anyone.

    As Ron shared above; all the Programs, Counseling and Therapy that I had as an Adult did not take the guilt and shame away but when I became a Christian and Jesus became my Lord and Saviour and also my Best friend, He took the pain away, yes I remember what happened to me but without the guilt and shame that had been part of my emotions for many years.

    But one thing that was needed for complete freedom was for me to forgive those who had hurt me and only Jesus could help me do this. I prayed compassionately that instead of them being punished that they would see the evil they had done and have true heart repentance, I than had real Peace within my Soul and a still do today many years later.

    “Christ”ian Love and Blessings – Anne.

    • Thank you for sharing your story, Anne. You are not alone in carrying unwarranted shame. Where there has been molestation by a parent, grandparent, or other family member, the non-offending parent will often blame the child — entirely without cause. The dual betrayal is immensely painful for the victim. Unfortunately, those victimized as children are vulnerable to further victimization. Healthy boundaries have to be re-established. As you say, only in Christ do we find true healing. A great many victims cannot, however, bring themselves to forgive their predator(s). May God keep you in His care. ❤

      • You are so right Anna, I also could not forgive those who had hurt me but as a Christian because God asks us to I choose to forgive them and when I did He empowered me to be able to forgive them and than I was free from all the crippling emotions including fear of sexual abuse again.

        Blessings – Anne.

  5. So many of us have become our worst enemy with self-condemnation. We have to renew our minds to think positive and forgive ourselves which is harder to do than forgiving others. God bless you, Anna!

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