In discussing the difficult relationship Patricia and Claude had begun to experience because of the impact which the sexual abuse Patricia had experience in her youth, John Henderson notes that Claude had become his wife’s accuse rather than her advocate. Rather than lovingly help her to seek God and to attempt to empathize with her pain, he only became frustrated and angry with her. Patricia had become sexually unreceptive to Claude on their honeymoon night, and rather than exploring the depth of the pain she was experiencing that was keeping her from the marriage bed, he could only think of his unmet desires and had become angry with her. As Henderson says:
“Rather than an advocate, he was often an accuser. Rather than speaking to her with the comforting words of the gospel, he had often growled and roared with anger. He wasn’t an abuser, but it was hard for Patricia to tell him apart from the abusers of her past. Claude began asking himself, “Am I a melting influence in my wife’s heart or a strengthening influence? Am I drawing her away from Jesus or toward him?” Though he was not the reason or the agonies of her past, was he compounding them in the present?”
Furthermore, Patricia had never linked the abuse which she had experienced with the abuse which Jesus Christ had experienced. Continuing in Psalm 22:
“For dogs have surrounded me; a band of evildoers has encompassed me; they pierced my hands and my feet. I can count all my bones. They look, they stare at me; they divide my garments among them, And for my clothing they cast lots”(Ps. 22:16-18).
Whatever abuse we may have endured in the past, or may endure in the future, Jesus endured the full wrath of God on the cross on behalf of the Church. John Henderson points to 1 Peter 2:20-21:
“But if when you do what is right and suffer for it you patiently endure it, this finds favor with God. For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in his steps.”
In this way, Patricia could see herself as someone who had the opportunity to turn the abuse she experienced into an experience in which she could glorify God. Understanding and beginning to internalize this helped both Claude and Patricia see Jesus as someone with whom they could have deep and meaningful fellowship as a real, suffering person. Henderson quotes Patricia as saying “So God planned for his own Son to suffer beyond belief. I wonder if sometimes I think that I am better than he is or should have somehow gotten a better deal.”
These words were part of a great epiphany for Patricia. They really put things in a theologically vital perspective. John Henderson summarizes this revelation by saying “Claude and Patricia were trapped under the unfairness and rottenness of their circumstances, fighting for new surroundings rather than new hearts transformed by grace. They had become so consumed with everything lost in the past that they couldn’t grasp the glory to be gained in the present.”
John Henderson is quick to point out that this does not mean that Patricia was somehow at fault for the abuse she had endured. She was not. Instead, Claude and Patricia were “acknowledging how self-centered their view o their own lives had been to this point. Suffering quietly tempted their souls to go inward and focus on themselves. The more they were hurt, the more they could justify dwelling on themselves, defending themselves, and mourning everything in life that wasn’t the way it should have been.” Instead, they began to see the big picture. God was using their circumstances to help them to grow in grace and knowledge, redeeming and transforming them for his own glory. Believing in Jesus Christ, regardless of the suffering which may accompany it, was worth everything. No amount of temporal pain could outweigh the eternal joy promised in union with Christ:
“But you,O Lord, be not far off; o you my help, hasten to my assistance. Deliver my soul from the sword, my only life from the power of the dog. Save me from the lion’s mouth; from the horns of the wild oxen you answer me”(Ps. 22:19-21).
Trusting in God for peace is the only way we can experience true peace, regardless of the abuse we may experience. As the Psalmist wrote, “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me”(Ps. 23:4). Indeed, the switch from the expression of torment and sadness is very abrupt and unexpected in Psalm 22:
“I will tell of your name to my brethren; in the midst of the assembly I will praise you. You who fear the Lord, praise him; all you descendants of Jacob, glorify him, and stand in awe of him, all you descendants of Israel. For he has not despised nor abhorred the affliction of the afflicted; nor has he hidden his face from him; but when he cried to him for help, he heard. From you comes my praise in the great assembly; I shall pay my vows before those who fear him. The afflicted will eat and be satisfied; those who seek him will praise the Lord. Let your heart live forever!” (Ps. 22:22-26).
In the end, the temporary affliction which God ordains will redound to his glory in the deliverance which he also ordains:
“All the ends of the earth will remember and turn to th Lord, and all the families of the nations will worship before you. For the kingdom is the Lord’s and he rules over the nations. All the prosperous of the earth will eat and worship, all those who go down to the dust will bow before him, even he who cannot keep his soul alive. Posterity will serve him; it will be told of the Lord to the coming generation. They will come and will declare his righteousness to a people who will be born, that he has performed it”(Ps. 22:27-31)