November 9, 2014
READ: 2 Samuel 13:1-20
Now Tamar tore her robe and put ashes on her head. And then, with her face in her hands, she went away crying (v.19).
In an episode of Downton Abbey (a historical English drama), beloved housemaid Anna Bates is brutally raped. It was heart-wrenching to watch her try to keep it a secret. The head housekeeper, Mrs. Hughes, found Anna shortly after the assault—bruised, crying and hiding in a corner. Despite the strong urgings of Mrs. Hughes, Anna told her to tell no one, not even her husband. She was not only afraid he would kill her assailant, but she also felt ‘dirty’ and believed the attack was somehow her fault.
Anna’s feelings and silence are typical and understandable in victims of sexual assault. The shame that victims feel—though undeserved—is beyond words.
The Bible also contains a disturbing story of sexual assault. Tamar, King David’s virgin daughter, was raped by her half-brother Amnon (2 Samuel 13:1-20). But rather than hide what happened, Tamar grieved openly (vv.18-19). Two years after the assault another of Tamar’s brothers sought revenge. Absalom killed Amnon, throwing King David’s family and kingdom into chaos (vv.23-28).
Some might argue that the royal family’s upheaval could have been averted if Tamar had simply kept quiet. No! Family bitterness and division grew because Amnon acted selfishly and wouldn’t take responsibility for violating Tamar.
To those who are victims of sexual assault or any form of abuse, please know that it’s not your fault! Nor is it God’s desire for you to carry life’s heaviest burdens alone (Galatians 6:2). What’s often worse than the violation(s) itself is a lifetime of suffering alone in the darkness. If you’ve been abused or are the victim of someone else’s selfishness, tell a person who can help you. You can discover that what is shareable slowly becomes more bearable. —Jeff Olson
365-day plan› Acts 21:1-17
Read Galatians 6:2, and see what Paul says about carrying one another’s burdens as a way to be Christ to others.
What burden of shame have you been carrying alone? Name one person with whom you can open up and share. How can you experience God’s love through that person?