Where is God in the turmoil of abuse, or other trauma? Over and over again, we see people in the Bible asking this question. If you’ve been following this series, we grappled with it in the story of Lazarus. But what about us, now?
One of the last things Jesus did before ascending into heaven was breath his Spirit into the believers. And like Jesus, the Holy Spirit is called the “Paraclete”. 1
It is a beautiful name. “Para” means “alongside of”, and carries the sense of the Holy Spirit both being called to our side, and of walking alongside us. “Clete”, (kaleo), means “to call”. So Paraclete is translated as advocate, counsellor, helper, consoler, comforter. One sense of advocate in this case, (and it was used in legal advocacy settings), is that here is a person who is close enough to us to really understand. Someone who really gets it, and who advocates for us because they do.
When faced with the ongoing lies of the abuser – lies that deliberately seek to undermine us, to destroy our capacity to even know our own mind – here is a friend who knows us deeply. Someone who knows without doubt what is real, and who we are. One picture I love of the Paraclete is that he comes alongside and calls us out. Resonates with us. Like the strings on a guitar resonate with each other – different strings, but they kind of love each other’s music, and harmonise. “Deep calls to deep,” as the psalmist wrote. 2 Such a beautiful picture of the work of the Holy Spirit.
You have been created in the image of God. He knows you, and delights in you.
So where does our help come from? It comes from Yahweh, the creator of heaven and earth. Right close beside us. He watches over us day and night. He will not let our feet slip. 3
It would be blind to ignore the question: why does he let bad things happen? Abuse is right up there on the scale of bad. But his promise – his often repeated promise – is that he is with us. That he knows us. Knows us better than anyone. And in that knowing: this person who is the actual expert on us? He delights in us.
True, it is a deep act of faith to trust his love and presence in the middle of trauma. He will be patient with us. He gets it. He knows what we face, and what our limits are.
Another psalmist wrote,
Lift up your heads, you gates;
be lifted up, you ancient doors,
that the King of glory may come in. 4
And Jesus, speaking to the churches, said,
Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me. 5
Both are invitations. He will not force his way in. On this journey we have a friend. One who respects boundaries, who sees us clearly and with the eyes of love. Closer than a brother. Watching us day and night. And who is full of wrath about the harm suffered by people he delights in, at the hands of those who do evil.