Here it is! – the first guest post telling their story of God and Suffering. This week’s post is from the lovely Natalie Collins, who works with Restored to end violence against women. I am always inspired by her passion and honesty. Here is her story.
As I shared the story of my son Joshua’s premature birth at a recent event, how he was born three months early due to my ex-husband assaulting me, there was an air of shock in the room. As I went on to talk about how my bad theology had led me to believe I must forgive my ex-husband’s abuse I could see people’s blindfolds lift and they heard my pain. As I spoke of the freedom I found in God’s love and grace and of my beautiful, healthy children and of my new marriage to the most wonderful man in the world, I felt the room celebrate with me.
As I asked for questions, this is one resonated deeply:
“In all you’ve been through, how did you keep hold of God? If bad theology held you captive for so long, how did you maintain a relationship with God?”
Let me share with you now my answer to that question…
I was living in a hospital with my 2 year old daughter, homeless and utterly broken by the abuse my ex-husband had chosen to inflict upon me. My son was constantly on the edge of death and I was 40 miles from anybody I knew. Everything was stripped away and I was literally left with nothing. When I got to the end of everything, God was the only thing left.
I stood in that desolate place and I heard Him ask me,
“Will you love Me the same if Joshua lives or dies? Will you trust Me with everything, whatever the cost?”
In that place of desolation, God was asking me to give up the hope that everything would be okay.
I thought long and hard, could I give up the last glimpses of my only perceived hope? Eventually I whispered to Him in that place of utter desolation, “I will love You whatever.”
Little did I know, as I died to all hope, I would begin to discover true Hope in all fullness.
Joshua did get well and I have remarried a wonderful man and God has been utterly faithful. But life is not easy. I had to face the excruciating pain of dealing with the abuse I had suffered. I had to work day by day rebuilding my identity. I needed counselling, and antidepressants and prayer in bucket loads, until I got to the place where God had healed so much of my being.
But the healing was only the start. Having been giving life and grace and love, God called me to share my story and dedicate my life to changing the reality of abuse for so many. I do this willingly and gladly and with joy. But I also do it knowing the cost, the cost of baring my soul to the world, day after day standing face to face with where I came from. For some healing means leaving their pain in the past, for me God’s call means holding it up to bring freedom to others. And some days the cost seems greater than the cause, and some days it hurts, but all in all, I feel privileged that Jesus can shine through my brokenness.
So let me tell you now, I held onto God through all I have been through, because when I got to the end of everything there is, and stumbled into utter desolation, all that was left was HE WHO IS, and I stand here today knowing I am because He Is.
Natalie Collins speaks and trains on understanding and ending domestic abuse nationally and internationally. She is the Creator of DAY, an innovative youth domestic abuse education programme and is the Development Officer for Restored, an international Christian alliance working to end violence against women and transform relationships. She can walk on her hands, can’t juggle and has the best husband and most scrumptious children in the world.
Over to you:
- Can you relate to Natalie’s call to not leave her pain in the past but to hold it up to bring freedom to others?
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