Michael and Carson,
Oh how your responses moved me! Michael, yours is well spoken and thoughtful with questions about the unique minds and experiences of the individual. Carson, you also speak to the individuality of the person who suffers showing an obvious desire to make an impact on the life of the one suffering.
Let me tell you MY story which is so much like millions of others the world over. I was born to nonbelievers; a father who was a thief, someone with the authority of the state we lived in who abused that power for his own gain. A so- called “father” who had a daughter and 2 sons; who neglected completely the sons, but sexually abused the daughter. Me. I was around 5 years old in my first memory of this abuse. My mother had left him because he was chronically unfaithful. Did she realize what he was doing to me? The signs were there, I’m sure, but did she WILFULLY refuse to see, or just NOT see?
The mother, meanwhile, had unrealistic expectations of a 5 year old, 3 year old, and infant. When her expectations weren’t met, we were whipped - Belt, belt buckle, fly swat, whatever was at hand so that she could release her rage at the world onto her children. So much so that when I was older, I took the blame for my brothers as often as possible to spare them that pain.
My father died when I was 9 and my brothers were 7 and 4. They don’t really remember him at all because he rarely came to see them, only me. Mom is still alive, but refuses to see the physical and emotional abuse she piled onto us; claims she doesn’t even remember it.
There were none in my family who knew or believed in God. Heck, I didn’t know about Him until a local church came around offering to pick us up and take us to church. But when he died, though he had hurt me in ways no child should ever know or experience, he was my father. That summer, and I remember this vividly, mom had brought us kids to Florida. The entire trip, all I could talk about was that, when we got back home, I was going to “bring daddy to church and save him”. In my mind, if I could save him, he wouldn’t hurt me ever again. He would be the daddy that other kids seemed to have.
But when we got back, he was already dead. A motorcycle accident. He died before I could save him. Read that sentence again… he died before I could save him. In my child’s mind, I would save him, but God took him before I could. I raged against God! I hated him for killing my daddy and sending him to hell- and I know with certainty that that’s where he is.
I hated Him and denied Him, I spoke against Him to anyone who would listen. But God… that beautiful 2- word phrase… But God.
I was in my 30’s when I met this beautiful catholic woman at work (I’m not catholic). At first, I questioned her beliefs, trying to refute His love, but she was so patient, so loving with me. I began to question my own beliefs. I opened my heart to Him and He healed me. I don’t forget anything, but I DO forgive. That’s the most beautiful gift He has given me, that ability to forgive my daddy, to forgive mom and be able to spend time with her now that has become precious to me.
And so, I humbly offer my answer to the question posed; God says in His Word that we are able to recognise Him in our surroundings. Even without knowing Him, we can recognise Him. In His very CREATION, we see Him. We feel Him, as I did. We hear about Him and we are given the opportunity to learn about Him. Yet He will never FORCE us to go to Him unwillingly. Just as He gave Adam and Eve the freedom to either obey or not, He gives us that same opportunity. We can choose to open our minds and hearts to Him or not. He wants us to choose Him, but He will NEVER force it. He wants us to come WILLINGLY to the cross, and follow Him. Those of us who do, find a joy we never knew existed! Those who refuse Him, I cry for, I pray for, I long for, but I can only accept their choice because that’s how God wants it.
I still pray for my mom, my brothers and their families, my own husband. I pray they see Him in MY everyday life. I pray that my light will reach them before its too late. I talk about my Savior, I tell them about Him to the point that my mother screams at me to stop. I pray for them, but I’ve learned this lesson: I cannot SAVE them. Just as I could not save my dad, I cannot save them. Only Christ can, and then only if they are WILLING. And so, there is your answer.
Yes, they’ve had a horrible life, but they’ve had the opportunities He has given them to open their hearts to Him, and yet have refused. How then, can He do anything BUT judge? MY question to those who ASK that question is: if they don’t believe in Him, how can they expect HIM to believe in THEM?