Breaking Through The Veil Of Shame
Silent, uncontrollable sobbing ... Bruises and beatings ... Shoving and slapping
... Children so traumatized they're afraid of their own shadows. And the endless
string of lies ... "He fell down." "It was an accident." But child abuse is no
accident. It violates God's fundamental purpose for man. And parents and children
around the world find themselves ensnared in its cruel clutches.
When people hear the term "child abuse" they may think it only
occurs in under-educated, poverty-stricken families. However, this epidemic occurs
in all types of families.
In America alone, reported cases of child abuse exceed
1 million each year, and some experts say the actual number of abuse victims may
be far greater.
Types of child abuse include physical abuse, emotional abuse,
sexual abuse and neglect. Affected children often suffer physical injuries, emotional
scars, malnutrition, and sadly, even death. Child abuse also spiritually cripples
precious young lives. These children may struggle to accept God as their loving
heavenly Father (Matt. 18:5-6). Other family members
often suffer silently. Even the offender suffers, increasingly bound by the shame
and secrecy of the addictive behavior.
But as many have already discovered,
there is hope. The vicious cycle of abuse can be broken, especially as we present
our wounds to the Gentle Healer, Jesus Christ.
WHAT DRIVES THE SIN OF ABUSE?
So what causes child abuse? Often, parents who abuse their children have been
victims of abuse themselves. Driven by years of repressed hatred, these parents
continue the cycle.
Sometimes even the most dedicated parents can momentarily
lose control -- frustrated by a child's actions or simply overwhelmed by their
own sense of failure or frustration. But an isolated incident or two, left unchecked,
can become a destructive force, tearing apart a family.
GOD'S VIEW OF ABUSE
The Bible gives much practical advise on the subject of child-rearing. "Train
up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from
it," says the writer of Proverbs (22:6). Parents
are clearly cautioned to take steps to correct foolishness which "is bound up
in the heart of a child" (Prov. 22:15).
discipline is essential, but some parents view these Scriptures as giving absolute
control over their children. This is not true. God's Word should never be used
as a license for abuse. Parents need to discipline their children, but they must
keep their own emotions and actions in check (Eph.
6:4, Col. 3:21). In God's eyes there simply is
no justification for abuse.
If you are trapped in the
unrelenting cycle and sin of child abuse, don't leave this webpage until you have
made a commitment before the Lord to break this destructive pattern. It won't
be easy, but it could be a matter of life and death. Understand that you are not
alone. Jesus knows you better that you could ever know yourself (see Psalm 139),
and He is willing and able to help (Heb. 4:15-16).
But you need to ask for His grace to share honestly your struggle with a trusted
brother or sister in Christ, or with your pastor. Follow these steps to get help.
1. Acknowledge the problem. To receive healing, admit that you have a problem.
Once you've broken the silence and confessed your sin of abuse, God's grace and
forgiveness can begin to restore you (Psalm 32:3-7).
2. Acknowledge your weakness. Allow God to minister in your weakness, for in it
He can make you strong (2 Cor. 12:9, Heb.
1:32-34). 3. Take action. Pray with other believers and share your struggles,
seeking the help of pastors, or other appropriate counselors (Prov.
15:22, James 5:16).
IF YOU'VE BEEN ABUSED
If you have been the victim of abuse, you need to know that God has not abandoned
you. He is "intimately acquainted" with all your ways (Psalm
139:3). He knows your pain, and He has a plan for complete healing and restoration
for your life. Consider these simple steps as you seek the Father's healing.
Face the abuse. The shame associated with abuse is unbearable. You can hide the
pain for a season, but eventually, the wounds will surface. But take comfort,
for God knows the horror that you have unjustly endured (see Psalm 139, Matt.
10:29-31). Ask God for the strength to face your nightmare of abuse.
and release. As difficult as it may sound, you need to begin by forgiving the
perpetrator for his or her actions against you. It may seem impossible, but the
consequences of unforgiveness can produce even further destruction (2
Samuel 13:23-29). Instead, ask God to give you the grace you need to forgive (1
Samuel 1:15-17, Psalm 42:3-4, Psalm
3. Seek shelter. If you are still in an abusive situation, immediately
seek shelter. Consider turning to family members, your church family, or perhaps
authorities if necessary. Ultimately, rest in God's shelter. Turn to His Word
(the Psalms offer much encouragement for the downcast).
4. Move on. Once you
have taken steps to forgive, ask God to help you pick up the pieces, and seek
again the abundant life in Jesus that He has for you (John
10:10). Press on and leave the past to God (Phil.
AS YOU PRAY
If your life has been devastated by child abuse,
turn to Jesus right now, and, on bended knee, ask Him to take control of your
life: "Dear Lord. I have never been confronted with a deeper, more urgent need
than right now. Please minister to me and my family members in Your perfect love
and compassion. Break the chains which bind us. And restore us to the joy of Your
salvation as we receive forgiveness and healing in Christ Jesus. Amen."
WORD ON CHILD ABUSE
"Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this
is right. Honor your father and mother (which is the first commandment with a
promise), that it may be well with you, and that you may live long on the earth.
And, fathers, do not provoke your children to anger; but bring them up in the
discipline and instruction of the Lord." (Eph.
SCRIPTURES FOR STUDY
18:5-6, Mark 13-16 -- Jesus' attitude toward children
6:4, Colossians 3:21 -- Proper attitudes for parents
Psalm 32:3-7 -- Acknowledging the problem
5:13-20 -- The church and restoration
12:15 -- How to avoid bitterness
WE'RE HERE FOR YOU
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ministers to millions every day in more than 70 nations. Each outreach of CBN
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Jesus Christ. For information on how you can take part in this exciting ministry
outreach, call or write today.
Unless otherwise noted, Scripture references
are from the New American Standard Bible.