My Faith struggles due to how I grew up

God Is Real but I go back and fourth from believing and giving up on my faith. My mom was highly abusive and mentally ill… She was pagan and married to a woman and then swapped to be a seven day Adventist christian and married a man after her parents intervened to save me and my brother as infants , they told her she had to live under the rule of God or they would take us from her… My mothers ex boyfriend who abused me in more than one way and abducted me, has a mother who is a highly respected “prophet pastor” with millions of dollars and a huge following in Europe, and she bails him out of any trouble he’s ever been in and covers him completely to not ruin her image. My Grandfather on my bio dads side is the Archeologist that founded sodom by using the bible and he is a leader of a church as well. He is a terrible person as well, cheats on his wife, abused my dad, stole all of my grandmothers money and i everything to go to Archeology school, and buy whatever he wanted. I guess my point is, everyone in my immediate family or people who have abused me “Believe in God” and have High positions in power in Churches. It’s more than frustrating for me to Have a relationship with God because i’m so angry and confused on why it all happened to me. He turns everything to good, but i’ve struggled ever since the abuse happened over a course of 10 plus years as a child. I struggle with relationships with people, I shut down a lot because I can’t handle being alive at times. I feel like I’m made for more and God has put something in my heart that keeps telling me to go back to him but I ask the question “If no one can even handle hearing about what i’ve been through without having a breakdown crying or shutting the conversation down because it’s too much for them, How could God see his child be abused sexually, physically and emotionally /neglected/abducted, and say “Ill make this good”” it just doesn’t sit right with me and i know everyone has a different path with God but I feel especially confused about the whole thing. That being said, I know God is real but I struggle substantially due to those things. what are some steps i can take to improve my relationship with Him?


Hi @rachelle,

Welcome and thank you for this most honest question.

Out of respect for you, I want to be clear that neither I nor any member of this community is a licensed counselor, nor are we able to provide professional care in this context. My hope and prayer for you is that there would be a way for you to access therapy from a licensed professional counselor to work through the many betrayals, abuses, and traumas that you have survived.

One of my friends, Lori Anne Thompson, has shared about her journey - which is similar in some ways - in this very raw talk:

I share it because I think it helps to know that others have endured intense trauma. And there is no justifying or explaining such evil. It is horrendous. I hate what people did to you and I believe God hates it too.

So, why did he allow it to happen? I do not have an answer for you.

What I do believe is that Jesus went to the cross for you, that he rose from the dead, that he ascended into heaven, and that he is here for you as you rebuild your life. I also believe that in the long run of eternity, God will so fill you with his love that you will become completely whole, restored, and full of life.

One step that has helped me in dealing with suffering is to be honest with God about how I’m feeling - like the Psalms do - and trust that he hears me and cares about what I am sharing.


Hi @rachelle,

I am deeply sorry for your difficult upbringing and painful circumstances you have had to endure and that too because of those who call themselves Christians! When we go through such circumstances its not uncommon to feel resentment or bitterness in our hearts. Many of us go through such emotions for acts that violate our trust and identity even when they are on a much smaller scale. I praise God for the faith in you that causes you to turn to God. I am praying that you will persevere in turning to God through these times of confusion and hurt. I pray you will be strengthened in your inner being, experience the presence of Jesus with you by the Holy Spirit through these unfair trials of life. Apostle Paul went through many trials at the hands of religious hypocrites of his day but God gave him the ability to confess that God had not forsaken him ( 2 Cor 4:8-10).

I also wanted to share with you the story of Dr. Helen Roseveare, who after graduating with a doctorate in Medicine, went as a missionary to Congo, but all the medical facilities she established were destroyed by rebel forces when civil war broke out in 1964, she was put in prison, beaten, raped, humiliated. Here’s an excerpt of her story from a TGC article.

She later recounted:

On that dreadful night, beaten and bruised, terrified and tormented, unutterably alone, I had felt at last God had failed me. Surely He could have stepped in earlier, surely things need not have gone that far. I had reached what seemed to be the ultimate depth of despairing nothingness.

She later pointed to God’s goodness despite this great evil:

Through the brutal heartbreaking experience of rape, God met with me—with outstretched arms of love. It was an unbelievable experience: He was so utterly there, so totally understanding, his comfort was so complete—and suddenly I knew—I really knew that his love was unutterably sufficient. He did love me! He did understand!

She also wrote:

[God] understood not only my desperate misery but also my awakened desires and mixed up horror of emotional trauma. I knew that Philippians 4:19, “My God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus,” was true on all levels, not just on a hyper-spiritual shelf where I had tried to relegate it. . . . He was actually offering me the inestimable privilege of sharing in some little way in the fellowship of His sufferings.

I share these stories and verses, to encourage you to have hope and to remember that Jesus has promised to be with us through all our trials. I pray He gives you strength to cast your burdens on Him (Matt 11:28-30, Psalm 121:1-2).

I have no counseling knowledge but I can point you to have hope in Jesus, pray for you and ask others to join in prayer. Jesus went through rejection, shame, abuse, and insult (Isaiah 53:3). He understands us and can meet us in our struggles. He can bear with our complaints. I am so sorry again for the pain you have gone through. Perhaps there are verses in the Bible that speak to you that you can memorize and meditate on to provide comfort through these times of emotional turmoil. May you know the immeasurable love of God that nothing in this world can take away. ( Romans 8: 31-39).


Hi Rachelle, thank you for your honesty and openness in sharing your story. I am so sorry for all of the pain and confusion you have experienced. I am praying for God’s healing and strength and for you to know and experience the depth of His love for you.

I am so encouraged by the courage and strength with which you are pursuing God through all of the pain: sharing your story, asking questions, and seeking to strengthen your relationship with Him. I want you to know you’re not alone in this journey. As @Carson shared, I too am not a licensed counselor. What I have seen with many who I have worked with though, who have gone through physical, sexual, and/or emotional abuse, is the tremendous healing so many of them experienced through professional counseling once they found a therapist they could trust. So, seeking professional care from a trusted, licensed therapist or counselor can make a significant difference.

While I cannot provide any professional care in this area, as I read your story and your questions several passages of Scripture came to mind that may be of help in addressing some of your questions and confusion.

You are not alone in this frustration, confusion, and anger, it is something echoed throughout Scripture, I think particularly of Habakkuk’s questions in Hab 1:2-4

How long, Lord, must I call for help,
but you do not listen?
Or cry out to you, “Violence!”
but you do not save?
3 Why do you make me look at injustice?
Why do you tolerate wrongdoing?
Destruction and violence are before me;
there is strife, and conflict abounds.
4 Therefore the law is paralyzed,
and justice never prevails.
The wicked hem in the righteous,
so that justice is perverted.

So too, as Carson mentioned, we see this same emotional honesty in many Psalms such as Psalm 22:1-2 and Psalm 13:1-4. For me in my pain, knowing that it is ok to cry out to God and be honest with both the pain and the questions has helped me process the pain while drawing me closer to God. Sometimes even just praying through those Psalms to give me a structure to voice how I’m feeling has been so helpful.

Often on the other side of these Psalms, the Psalmist are able to find and express their confidence, trust, and hope in God (Psalm 22:19 - 31; Psalm 13:5-6).

Yet, it’s important to note the process of grief, reflection, and crying out to God that they went through before they got there. To me, there is no better example of this than Lamentations. It takes three and a half chapters of two acrostic poems (poems which start each new line with the next letter of the alphabet) and a triple-acrostic poem (same thing, but three lines per letter) detailing some incredibly painful suffering before the prophet finally turns to the hope he has in God (Lam 3:21-24). Those first few chapters, and Lamentations in general, are certainly the most structured and thoughtful reflection on suffering I have ever read.

I think, particularly where trauma is concerned, the importance of that process of reflection is one of the areas where seeking out professional counseling can be so beneficial to help guide one through this reflection in a safe and helpful manner.

In response to this next question of yours, I think it’s important to look at how God feels about and views our suffering.

Though God absolutely does work all things for our good, I think it’s crucial to understand that this does not mean that everything that happens - including the evil - is good, nor does it mean that God is indifferent to our suffering.

God hates evil and it has no place with Him (Psalm 5:4-5; Proverbs 6:16-19; Romans 6:23). He calls his people to act justly, show mercy, love one another, and care for those who are hurting and oppressed (Isa 58:6-8; Micah 6:8; Col 3:12-16). So, though He allows us to choose whether we will follow Him or walk in our own evil (much like the choice given to the Israelites Deut 30: 19-20), He does not approve of evil but detests it.

One example of the deep care that God has for us in our suffering - far from being indifferent - that has stuck with me is his treatment of Martha and Mary in John 11.

Jesus went to a city where there had been a recent attack on His life (John 11:8, 16) with the purpose of bringing their brother Lazarus back to life (John 11:11-12). Yet, when He gets there, both Martha and Mary open with - what reads to me at least as - accusations saying, “If you had been here, my brother would not have died,” (John 11:21, 32). For they had sent word for him to come heal Lazarus while he yet lived (John 11:1-3). Rather than getting angry about being met with accusations when He had come to raise their brother back to life though, He instead breaks down and weeps with them in their suffering before bring Lazarus back from the dead (John 11:33-35). So even knowing full well, that Lazarus would soon be dead no longer, the glory that Lazarus’s resurrection from the dead would bring to God (John 11:4), and the encouragement and faith that it would stir up in those who saw it (John 11:14), He saw the suffering that they were experiencing in that moment and He too grieved and wept with them. Truly does it say that God knows our sorrows (Psalm 56:8). Even though He ultimately brought good out of the situation, that did not make Lazarus’ death good nor did it negate the real suffering that Martha, Mary, and Jesus all experienced.

God cares deeply about the mistreatment of His people - especially by those in positions of authority (Jer 23:1-2; Ezek 34:17-19; James 3:1), yet he promises to bring justice, healing, become our righteousness, and to replace those authorities with his Servant (Jer 23:3-8; Ezek 34:20-24).

Though this has been fulfilled in part through the birth, death, and resurrection of Jesus and the in-dwelling of the Holy Spirit, we still await the day when Jesus returns and we experience the new kingdom in full such that:

"the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” (Rev 21: 3-4)

Until that day, there will be pain and sorrow. Yet through it all, we can be honest with God and call out to Him, knowing that He sees and cares about our pain and sorrow, He loves us deeply, He is trustworthy, and He will bring about justice, healing, and one day an end to our pain and grief - replacing it with the joy of dwelling with Him (Rom 8:18).


Rachelle, trauma as you describe is proof that this is a fallen world and highlights why we need Jesus in our lives and in our hearts. I have given suffering much thought over the years, and I am convinced that people who suffer the way that you have are blessed to be a shining example to others to not give up. Despite all you have suffered, you still seek God and pursue Him above all. My advice to you is simple. Spend an hour each day (or as long as you can,) with the Lord’s Prayer, Matthew 6:9-13. Use this as an outline to talk to our Heavenly Father. Thank Him, praise Him and inquire of Him. In the quiet of your heart, He will refresh and renew you. He will cry with you as He comforts you with His perfect peace. We are not perfect-but He IS! Rest in Him and do not fear. He will never leave you or forsake you. He has been with you the entire time. Peace and blessings to you and you are an amazing person because you refuse to give up! I am sure many who read your story are so very proud of you. What a witness you are becoming!