A Miracle of Grace
By Roger Allen Cook
It was a beautiful Michigan fall morning and after dropping her son off at school, she drove over to the shopping center to meet the girls for breakfast. She arrived a little early for their meeting, so she parked her car near the restaurant and decided to walk along the sidewalk and do some window shopping.
She was lost in her own little world when she walked by a passageway that led between the stores and back to the service side of the mall. In an instant, the entire course of her life changed as a man emerged from the shadow and violently grabbed her. She was absolutely stunned as he dragged her down that passageway to a loading dock at the back of the building and brutally raped her.
He finished his despicable act and ran off, leaving her dazed and in shock. One of the worst things that she could ever have imagined had just happened to her. It seemed surreal, almost like it was happening to someone else while she watched. As soon as she was able, she jumped to her feet and fled back down the passageway, and across the parking lot to her car.
She drove home and immediately got into the shower and attempted to wash away the evil that had just been done to her. As she stepped out of the bathroom, she began to tremble uncontrollably and realized that she was in shock and desperately needed help. She called her husband who came home immediately and together they spent the rest of the day involved in a visit to the police station and the indignities of emergency room procedures endured by rape victims. He found himself as helpless to ease her pain as he was to deal with the rage deep within him toward the criminal who had hurt his wife.
To some, it might seem like the worst of this tragic situation was over, but that was not the case. The next five years of their lives were an unmitigated disaster. Denial, panic attacks, self-punishment, thoughts of suicide, doctors, counselors, and prescription drugs were all a large part of these tragic years. Depression dominated her life.
Her husband tried to be supportive, but she pushed him away. She truly wanted to die. She worked hard to make her husband hate her so he wouldn't be hurt by her death. Life got so difficult that a trial separation was attempted. Eventually their relationship fell into a state of hopelessness that brought them to a mutual decision that divorce was the ultimate fate of this damaged marriage. How sad for a couple that had been so in love just a few years before!
As they planned the initial steps of their divorce, her heart screamed out that it was not what she really wanted. That was when she remembered meeting her brother's pastor. She had visited his church once to see the baptism of her niece, and now wondered if he might be of help in this desperate hour. She made a contact and met with Pastor Tom, at the church the next day. Her husband had encouraged her to go, but he privately held little hope that anything would change.
The solution to five years of personal suffering was found that day when she heard about how God loved her and truly understood her pain. She gave her life to Jesus and asked Him to help her. So began a miracle of God's Grace. The tragedy that had occurred five years earlier had taken her to the edge and caused her to despair of continuing her life, but she found out that living in God's grace was the answer. She left the church that day a new person. The peace of God filled her heart and she knew it. She couldn't wait to tell her husband what had happened.
He noticed this change in her when he got home. They actually sat down and talked together without the conversation ending in an argument. He felt the hand of Grace reaching out to him and agreed to attend church with her the next Sunday. He wanted to see for himself just what this change was all about. He had given his life to Jesus many years earlier, but drifted far away from that decision. There was spiritual work that needed to be done in his heart too.
The church began to minister to them through God's word and the small group ministry. They came back to see Pastor Tom as a couple and this miracle of Grace continued. The anger and bitterness that had disabled them for the last five years was gone. Their marriage became a blessing once again, as their love for one another exploded to a whole new level.
On the next two anniversary dates of their tragedy, they had to battle a difficult sense of edginess and the anger that attempted to intrude into their relationship. They realized that there were still some fears and feelings that needed to be faced. As the eighth anniversary of their tragedy approached, the Lord spoke to their hearts. They approached Pastor Tom with an idea and an unusual appointment was made.
The three of them met at the shopping center, on the tragic anniversary date, at the exact time in the morning that she had been attacked eight years earlier. They then proceeded to retrace the steps she had walked on that fateful day. They walked along the sidewalk past the stores, down the passageway, and over to the loading dock at the back of the building. On this day, there were workers present who watched in curiosity as one by one each of them prayed. A husband and wife offered prayers of thanksgiving for their journey from depression, from strong anti-depressant drugs, from thoughts of suicide, and from plans to divorce, to a new life in God's grace.
On that special day, the last of the chains of a family tragedy were cast into the ocean of God's amazing grace. Isn't the grace of God a wonderful thing?!
Hebrews 4:16 Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.
Write Roger and let him know your thoughts on this story!
Roger is a Christian school administrator, a minister and the author of a book of devotional poetry entitled "Sailing by Grace". He resides in Michigan with his wife Konnie, four children and six grandchildren. He has been published many times on various sites and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.