March 22, 2018

A picture worth a countless word

When Bea (not her real name) suddenly appeared at church one Sunday, we could see she’d had a rough life. She freely told us as much the following Wednesday when she showed up for Bible Study.

Sometime that morning, Bea said she’d been going to AA meetings but didn’t know how to get beyond the source of her drinking problem – childhood abuse. As she succinctly put it, “My dad was mean.”

Rather than trashing her deceased father or offering advice, we shared snacks and discussed God’s Word, giving Bea a chance to get to know us. Then we asked if she'd like for us to pray for her, and yes, she did.

After asking God to give us the prayers to pray, we gathered around Bea with each of us putting a hand on her upper back or shoulders, inter-connecting and establishing our group as one body. Then we took turns praying whatever God brought to mind. Tears came and joy – a sign that something deep had begun to receive God’s healing.

Before our group dispersed that morning, we explained how forgiveness was not a feeling but a choice to obey God, and how such an act of obedience would foster her healing. Bea saw the sense of this but feared she'd never think of anything but how hateful her father had been for much of her life, especially since she would have no opportunity now to confront him. Not knowing what else to do, we assured her that healing can take time, but God would continue to work in her life, and we promised to keep praying for her.

Throughout the week, Bea remained in our prayers, and the next time we saw her, we were amazed! Her face had unwrinkled itself, and she looked ten years younger! When we told her so, she said she’d tried really hard to find a way to think kindly of her dad but just couldn’t. And then, she came across an old photograph of him as a very young man – long before abusive relationships began.

Keeping that picture in sight and mind has helped Bea respond to a nonthreatening version of her father she could forgive and welcome into her life. But, oh, how blessed our church body has been to hear of such a perfectly brilliant idea and a God-inspired picture in need of sharing!

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