revjoaquinwillisweb.gifCan you remember any of your childhood mistakes, hurts or abuse?

Afterward, do you remember seeing God’s hand at work in the incident, and how it shaped who you are? On the other hand, do you remember a time when you could see Satan’s hand at work?

Often, our hearts get broken during childhood. Because as children we are trusting by nature, children trust adults, and through that trust, their capacity to trust God grows.

God holds parents and other adults who influence them accountable for how we affect their ability to trust God.

Jesus warns in Matthew 18:6 that, “But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.”

Christ also said in Matthew 18:2, “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”

As adults with broken hearts or even as children who are abused, Christ challenges us to turn and become like children. If you consider yourself the most important person in the world and your opinion is the only one that matters, then you are facing in the wrong direction.

As we continue the journey in Bible study with Beth Moore in her book, Breaking Free, she shares the best clue to answer the question of “Was it God or Satan?’’ behind our childhood hurt. That clue, Moore says, is often found in checking to see if sin was involved.

Moore shares two incidents that deeply affected her in childhood. One was a case of abuse, the second was a fall that mangled her teeth. Moore says her teeth became a source of insecurity and embarrassment. Her abuse resulted in shame because heinous sin was involved. Moore states, “Shame is Satan’s stamp of approval.”  

Yet good came from both incidents.  The mangled teeth created in her an “underdog syndrome” helping her to develop compassion for people who are mistreated. The abuse created a greater sense of responsibility for her healing.

A good friend of mine, Ms. Tina Blackwell, often says, “We may not be responsible for our hurt, but we are responsible for our healing.”

Similarly, Moore states, “Just because we don’t think we’re at fault for the abuse, we wonder, ‘It wasn’t me who did wrong – How else could I have responded after such ugly abuse?’’’

We all need to confess our hurts and anger. When we let God know we have sinned, it frees us from the power sin holds over our decisions. Confession allows God to instantly forgive us, cleanse us, and change us.

If you have a broken heart, and you want it mended, then just confess your sins to God. It doesn’t matter whether you are the abused or the abuser, confession is not about assessing fault or blame: It is about being set free. If you are wrestling with who’s at fault, then you are still sinning, and God wants you be free!

The Rev. Dr. R. Joaquin Willis is pastor of the Church of the Open Door at 6001 NW 8th Ave., Miami.  To contact the church, call 305-759-0373 or email the pastor at