We abuse victims often rage at God for our circumstances. Given the pain we endured, that is only natural. Is it, however, appropriate? Is God responsible for fate and justice, by inference, for innocent suffering?
The Fates are a common feature in polytheism. They are often depicted as a group of mythological goddesses weaving the destiny of mortals on a loom. The ancient Greeks called them the Moirai. The Norse called them the Norns. They controlled the thread of life for every mortal from birth to death.
A belief in fate or blind chance can give rise to resignation, a stoic submission to events which largely removes free will from the equation. This is a way of coping with the gross injustice of abuse. It eases the pain, but reinforces a hopeless victim mentality.
What such a belief does not do is place responsibility where it truly belongs, i.e. on the predator. That can be appealing, since we need not confront the excruciating truth that we were not loved as we deserved.
Young people today toss around the term “karma” as a short-hand for justice, with limited understanding of its implications and less understanding of God’s will. What goes around comes around. The universe – presumably sentient, omniscient, and concerned with justice – will take care of things. No worries.
In reality, karma is a term about the cycle of cause and effect tied to reincarnation. In Buddhism and Hinduism, karma is defined as the sum total of a person’s actions in this and previous states of existence. That decides his/her fate in future lives. What happens to a person is thought to happen solely because the individual caused it through his/her actions, past and present.
This is a way – though, from a Christian perspective, a flawed way – of saying there are consequences to our actions, and explaining why bad things happen to good people. Such reasoning would hold abuse victims responsible for the evil to which we were subjected.
Salvation and Sanctification
Much the same approach is taken by the biblical Job’s friends (Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite) . They do not waver in their belief that Job’s suffering is a punishment for his sins. Since God does not cause the innocent to suffer, they advise Job to repent and seek God’s mercy.
Surprisingly, God condemns their advice! Though, in the end, Job erred in overstating his righteousness, he had done nothing to deserve his suffering. The trials Job experienced were not related to his behavior.
Nor, of course, are abuse victims responsible for their suffering. We did not cause our own abuse. That must be emphasized.
In Job’s case, God used suffering as a test, and a part of His sovereign plan for Job’s life.
And abuse victims? Christians would say that God determines the circumstances into which we are born (Acts 17: 26-27). This is not meant in a fatalistic sense. Rather, it is so that we might search Him out, working out our Salvation day by day (Phil 2: 12) .
 The Bible’s Book of Job tells the story of a righteous man who loses all he holds dear. In the process, Job comes to a deeper understanding of God, ultimately declaring “Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him” (Job 13: 15).
 Salvation refers to the restoration of our relationship with God. Salvation is achieved through Christ’s death and Resurrection. We are saved by grace through faith. God freely extends us His favor, His love, His Son. This is grace. We can choose to accept or reject those gifts. This is faith.
 The term “work out our Salvation” refers to sanctification, i.e. the process by which we increase in holiness, becoming more like Christ once we have been saved. It does not imply that Christians must “earn” their Salvation.
This series will conclude next week with Part 2.
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