Truly embracing God’s love for you — especially if you’ve experienced the horror of sexual abuse — is the way to hope and healing. Do you want healing too? Read Monica’s story and learn how gospel-centered counseling helped remove stumbling blocks to her faith. Consider biblical counseling for you or a loved one too.
At a young age, Monica was sexually abused by her step-father until he divorced her mother. In her teenage years she was raped by her brother’s friends.
She lived a life of promiscuity—getting pregnant twice with both ending in abortions. She was drinking alcohol heavily and using drugs until the age of 24 when she developed cervical cancer. God used her illness to get her attention.
She was distancing herself from her husband but didn’t know why. You see, she thought as a Christian, she shouldn’t struggle with these issues. Finally she confided in a Christian friend who encouraged her to seek biblical counseling.
The Journey Begins
The counseling process helped Monica to discover some stumbling blocks to her faith. She had doubts about God—about His goodness, His grace, His love, and doubted ever being free from condemning thoughts. With the love and support of her husband, she began the difficult process of looking at her past through the lens of Scripture.
She was afraid to reveal certain details to Jeff because she didn’t want him to stop loving her. He assured her of his love and comm
itment, so she forged ahead allowing God to peel away layer after layer into her past.
During the most difficult layers of dealing with the sexual abuse, she had to distance herself from him intimately. After eighteen months of biblical processing, Monica was able to restore her relationship to her husband.
Believing Again in God’s Love
Through the counseling process, her faith had grown stronger. She believed in God’s goodness and grace. But she wasn’t so sure about His love.
She told the counselor that she still couldn’t understand how a holy God could love someone with her past. The counselor asked her,
How do you know that Jeff loves you, even after knowing of your past?
She thought about how Jeff had been very supportive throughout the counseling process. He had been incredibly gracious to her when she was at her worst with depression and self-loathing. During the time she separated herself from him intimately, he was amazingly patient and forgiving.
He wasn’t shocked nor disgusted when he learned of the sexual abuse. Instead, he was a safe and secure haven.
Her husband’s love encouraged her to share her heart with him. Knowing her ugly past, she was only met with Jeff’s unconditional love. In return, she loved him in a much deeper way. She would sacrifice her time and energy to please him.
And spending time with him was no longer a burden. She treasured every moment with him because she felt valued by his love.
Reclaiming Her Love for Her Husband
Monica kept growing in her relationship with God and her husband. Indeed, she no longer feared her husband’s love.
To the question, “How do you know that Jeff loves you?” she answered this way. “I know Jeff loves me because he has demonstrated his love in marvelous ways.” The counselor asked Monica to read Romans 5:8, which states,
But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
The counselor stated that God proved His love for her by sending His Son, Jesus, to die for her sins. And since she is a believer, there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1).
The counselor also reminded Monica that God’s love was lavished on her through Jeff’s love. Seeing how Jeff loved her with the love of God, she began to get the picture. She finally grasped a greater understanding of God’s love.
Monica also learned that God’s love for her is incredibly gracious and sacrificial, amazingly patient and forgiving, safe and secure, and completely accepting of her in spite of her past. She realized that Christ has given her a new identity—His identity. She was no longer a victim living in her past.
God saw everything she did and yet still loved her. This realization gripped Monica deep into the core of her soul.
She kept repeating to herself, “God really does love me!”
Motivated by Love to Love
God’s love granted Monica the grace to love Him. As she daily contemplated His love, she became more sensitive to affronting the One she loved which led quickly to repentance of sin. She also found it easier to pray. And she didn’t fear seeking His presence.
In addition, she wanted to spend time with God. She desired to please Him with her time and energy. She had a growing willingness to sacrifice her life for God’s glory—no longer doing things her way.
Monica learned as the Apostle Paul did, that “the love of Christ controls us” (2 Corinthians 5:14). Christ’s sacrificial, substitutionary death motivated Paul’s service for Him. In Galatians 2:20, Paul states,
I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
Paul learned that he died to the Law because he was crucified with Christ. Therefore he was able to live for God because Christ lived in him.
The greatest love of all.
True love has a constraining virtue. Monica realized this in Jeff’s love for her. It cost him something to love her. He accepted the consequences of her past and chose to love her. She would do anything for him because he loved her at her worst.
Even greater is the love of Christ. It cost Him something to love us. He gave up His life when we were at our worst—and still loves us at our worst. By faith Monica embraced God’s love for her. In return, she loved God because He first loved her (1 John 4:19).
Join the Conversation
Think of a time when you felt really loved by someone. What effect did it have on you? How did you respond to that love? Now think of God’s love for you. What effect does His love have on you? How do you respond to His love?