Why wasn't He there?

The Living Room:
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Tortured and abused, Johanna cried out to God for help. Why did she go through this? Why wasn't He there? Would He turn up if she was to end it all?

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Johanna's Story

Being Christian in a small town in Sweden, it wasn't the best, it wasn't the nicest. I was very, very bullied from when I started school. It got more and more extreme the older I got. I got hit, I got cursed at, and when I was 10 it turned really, really abusive.

My classmates tried to drown me, and when I didn't die, my classmates started encouraging me to just kill myself. It really started to almost brainwash me into believing that I wasn't worth living, and I wasn't worth being alive, or why don't people like me?

Then when I was 14, unfortunately my brother died. It was really, really hard, and I wished that I could have taken his place. I was so, so angry because I wanted to die, but now I couldn't because I saw what happened to my family in that. I just bundled everything in, and I continued pressing on and going to school and hating everything. I was shutting down more and more and more.

Then when I was 17, my best friend at the time, one of my closest friends, he just switched and he brutally raped me. He chained me to a bed, and I was crying for God. I was praying, I was screaming. I have scars, and I have the handcuffs. As I was screaming for God, he didn't show up, and in that place, in that broken place, I started feeling like God wanted this. Like God, in some sense, He allowed this to happen. How could He not respond?

Then I saw myself laying there on the bed, bloody and all that kind of stuff, and then, all of a sudden, the boy was not there in the room anymore, and I wasn't chained to that bed. So I was able to flee. I don't know where he went or what happened, but I grabbed my clothes and I ran away.

I developed a severe case of endometriosis. I developed first-degree uterus cancer because of the rape, and I developed a severe case of post-traumatic stress disorder. So every night, for a number of years, I relived that moment.

I ended up throwing myself in front of a train, and as I was throwing myself, this man that I'd never seen before that wasn't on the platform, he grabbed my arm and he said, "Johanna, what are you doing?" I broke down crying in his arms, and I was just like, "Well, how do you know me?" He said, "I know everything about you." I asked, "Who are you?" He just said "I've been sent here to help you," then we just talked.

It was so amazing, and I felt so seen. It was like finally I got some fresh air. But it wasn't enough, it wasn't enough to pull me back into church. It was almost like God was working incognito. He was working underneath the surface because all of a sudden I started thinking back on people. I was like, "Ah, I'm starting to forgive that person." Then I was having this internal war inside of myself because that person doesn't deserve to be forgiven, but anyway, I started to forgive him. I was just like, "What's going on?"

I was having this internal process of forgiveness, but not really knowing that I was on that journey, if that makes sense. So then from nowhere I said to my mom and dad, "I want to go to this conference." This is a conference where there are 5000 people that will be gathering. They're just gathering and enjoying God, and worshiping God. They're having these guest speakers from all over the world.

The person preaching, he was from Australia, and he stopped at the end of his message. He said, "Huh, I usually don't do this, but can the person who's angry at God please stand up?" I didn't want to stand up. I was holding myself down because I knew if I stood up something was going to happen. I didn't want to show the world that I was angry at God because I wasn't just angry, I was furious because he allowed all this stuff to happen. I was like, "No, I'm not going to stand up."

I started sweating and everything, and then, all of a sudden, I stood up. I had my eyes closed. I was watching a movie of my life, and every second, every minute, I was being mistreated, Jesus was there. He was there, He was holding my hand, and He was comforting me. When I was crying and screaming out for Jesus, He was there. He was there, and He was crying, and He was holding me, and He was bringing me comfort, and He broke those chains. He cut those handcuffs, and He set me free that day when I thought that He did not set me free.

I realised that I'd accused God of something that wasn't true. I'd accused Him, "You were not there. Where were you, God?" He'd just shown me the proof that He was there every moment. So I realised that I had to ask God for forgiveness. I said, "I'm sorry, God." From that moment, I was instantly set free from post-traumatic stress disorder. I was instantly set free from endometriosis. I didn't have that pain anymore. Since that day I've never have had a nightmare about what happened.

Sometimes unforgiveness can hold us captive. I was holding myself captive in that unforgiveness to God and to myself, in some senses. When that happened, it just so totally set me free.

It's been a beautiful journey since then. To just walk in freedom, and it's been a journey of walking the freedom out. Now when you hear my story, I have every right to feel sorry about myself. But Jesus actually died on the cross so I don't have to.

There's still a choice if I feel sorry for myself for what happened to me or if I give it to Jesus. That choice is mine and I daily choose to give it to Jesus because I don't want to stay in that bondage. I don't want to stay in that place of darkness because there is hope. Because God is just so good, and what He did for me He can do for you. He can totally set you free because He is constantly healing me.

All this stuff that I've been diagnosed with has been washed away. And that's the healing power of forgiveness and the power of God.

The Living Room

From everyday parents, to gangsters, business professionals, and drug dealers, The Living Room features a diverse range of people with one thing in common - through the love and power of Jesus they overcame adversity and strife. Hear their stories, share their wonder.

Full series


Release Date:
November 25, 2021
8 mins
True Stories
Johanna Stringer

This content has not been independently classified. Parental guidance recommended. Adult themes.