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Surviving The Horrors Of History

By Rev. Angela C. Bosfield Palacious

Do we believe that the spate of violent crimes is the result of slavery, piracy, colonialism, lack of identity, economic hardship, greed, abuse, addiction and affliction known to humankind? Are we trapped forever in a cycle of the horrors of history? Is there a glimmer of hope that we can find healing, wholeness and wellness of soul?

First, we have to believe that it is possible to change. Then, we have to want to see change in our own lives and that of our families even as we work to make a difference in our communities.

There are several passages in the Bile that describe the reality of violence in the family: Cain and Abel (Gen. 4), Jacob and Esau (Gen. 27:41-46), Joseph and his brothers (Gen 37:12-36), the rape of Tamar (2 Sam. 13). Let us look at this last incident more closely.

Tamar has a half-brother, (Amnon who is her father King David’s son), a brother (Absolom, with the same mother and father as herself), and a cousin (Jonadab who is the son of her father’s brother). Amnon lusts after Tamar and Jonadab tells him to deceive her by pretending to be gravely ill in bed. Instead of asking to marry her as he could have before the rape or after the rape, he sends her away in disgrace. This is what happens next:

So his servant put her out, and bolted the door after her. 19 But Tamar put ashes on her head, and tore the long robe that she was wearing; she put her hand on her head, and went away, crying aloud as she went.

20 Her brother Absalom said to her, “Has Amnon your brother been with you? Be quiet for now, my sister; he is your brother; do not take this to heart.” So Tamar remained, a desolate woman, in her brother Absalom’s house. 21 When King David heard of all these things, he became very angry, but he would not punish his son Amnon, because he loved him, for he was his firstborn.[d] 22 But Absalom spoke to Amnon neither good nor bad; for Absalom hated Amnon, because he had raped his sister Tamar.

Eventually Absolom kills Amnon and has to flee from his father’s anger. We hear nothing more of Tamar.

Some questions for us to prayerfully ponder:

  1. Could similar incidents of incest or domestic abuse be the source of some of the violence today? Could internalized grief, rage, fear and guilt be fuelling the level of domestic violence?

  2. How many families have this same scenario going on?

  3. How many parents refuse to properly supervise and control their children when they are young?

  4. How many turn a blind eye if the perpetrator is a favourite child or a financial contributor to the family?

  5. How many victims are ignored, victimized or ostracized when the truth is revealed?

  6. How many persons around us have carried, or still carry, this tragic secret, never telling a single soul because of shame, fear, guilt or unwillingness to be “exposed” publicly?

  7. What more can the Church do to prevent violence wherever possible, or bring healing and counsel to all concerned?

  8. How are such cases handled by the police and the courts? What types of sentences are handed down?

  9. What more can we do as a nation to respond to crime and violence? How do we address the issue of escalating murder as a response of revenge?

  10. How does this topic impact my family, friends, neighbours, colleagues, and church family? What can my ministry be to them?

  11. How do I relate personally to this topic of crime and violence? Whom do I have to forgive and for what? Who has to forgive me and for what? How long ago did these various situations occur? How does it feel to apologize or extend forgiveness to someone else? How often do I try to make it up (offer restitution)?

God empowers and equips. Are we ready to shake off the shackles of history and discover true freedom in the healing and forgiveness of Jesus Christ?

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