Psalms 57:1-3 ESV
“Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me,
for in you my soul takes refuge;
in the shadow of your wings I will take refuge,
till the storms of destruction pass by.
I cry out to God Most High,
to God who fulfills his purpose for me.
He will send from heaven and save me;
he will put to shame him who tramples on me. Selah
God will send out his steadfast love and his faithfulness!”
I cry out to God Most High
My parents grew up going to the same church fellowship as each other, and their parents were friends with one another. My dad was in the army during WW2, and my mom wrote to the boys from the church fellowship who were at war. They developed a romantic relationship through writing, and by November of 1945 they were married. They were both 31 years old.
They had five children, 2 boys, then 3 girls. I was the oldest girl, so I was a middle child. My mom was 35 years old when I was born on the last day of 1949. My dad was an abuser physically, sexually, and verbally. He beat my mom up on a regular basis, and he was physically abusive to all us children, and sexually abusive to at least us three girls.
And my mom was emotionally withdrawn from us children. She told us she never wanted to have children but that my dad didn’t believe in birth control. She felt she was not cut out to be a mom. I never heard the words, “I love you” from her, nor did she ever hug me unless I was going off to summer camp. At least, this is what I recall. I did not feel loved by her.
When I was 15 years old my dad had my mom outside and was beating her head against a tree and was strangling her. I was not at home, but my youngest sister was, and she told my aunt about it, who then made an appointment with the pastor for me and my sister next in age to me. But the pastor said he could do nothing about it unless our mom pressed charges.
The bottom dropped out of my heart in that moment. Now what? I had come this far, which I would never have done on my own. I could not leave his office without telling him the rest of what my dad was doing, beginning when I was age 5. His response: “Did he force you?” Me: “Of course he did!” At age 5 I didn’t volunteer myself for his advances. I feared him greatly!!
The pastor spoke with my parents, and my dad willingly went into a mental hospital for 1.5 years. No one spoke to us kids about what had just happened. We received no counseling. My mom didn’t talk about it, either, only to tell us that we needed to forgive him. That year and a half was peaceful, though. He was gone. I didn’t have to be afraid.
But then… we were told he was being released from the hospital and that he was coming back home. Again, we were not given a choice in the matter. No one asked us how we felt about it. No one made sure we were okay with him being back in charge of us again. And I was scared to death of what was going to happen. And I cried and I prayed fervently all the way home from summer camp that year in 1967.
As soon as my dad was back home, he tried to get me to come into his room with him, but I refused, and I told my mom. I don’t know what transpired after that, but he never tried it again. But his anger against me was horrible, and the verbal abuse often sent me to my room in tears and caused my stomach to be tied up in knots. And I cried this out to the Lord, too. And he comforted me with his love and mercy. I felt His loving arms around me.
The Lord did put to shame my dad when he had to go into that mental hospital. So, he did suffer disgrace during that time. But that didn’t stop him from trying to pick up where he left off when he returned home. And although the physical abuse ceased, he continued to verbally abuse anyone he could, because he was a big bully who picked on those weaker than him.
But he was put to shame again in his last 6 months of life, for my mom died in June of 2000, but he lived until December of that year. He couldn’t take care of himself, so he was placed in a facility again, only this time a nursing home where he was not in charge of anyone, and where he could not bully anyone, but where they had control over him. But I have no confidence that he ever turned his life over to the Lord, and that is so incredibly sad, indeed.
Who Fulfills His Purpose for Me
Did you know that our Lord doesn’t promise us that we will never have to suffer abuse? In fact, Jesus said that as he was treated so we will be treated also. If they hated him and they persecuted him, so will they hate and persecute us. Now God hates sin, and he hates the hands of those who do evil to others, but he uses the circumstances of our lives for our good.
Yes, I went through some horrible suffering in my life which did not end when I left the home of my parents, i.e., more suffering was in store for me throughout my life coming from different people in various ways. Some of it I brought upon myself, but much of it I did not. Much of my suffering came as a result of my walk of faith in Jesus Christ.
But God used it all to fulfill his purpose for me. All my life he was preparing me for the calling he placed on my life in 2004, when I was 54 years old. All my life he was training me for this moment in time. Everything I went through helped prepare me to follow my Lord in obedience and to do his will and to stand strong in my faith despite much opposition and persecution.
I think that if I had had an easy life and loving and supportive parents, and much in the way of emotional and spiritual support from much of the church throughout my life, that I would not be ready for what the Lord is now having me do. For, I have to be willing to have no friends, to have people turn against me, and to be hated and rejected, and to be accused falsely.
I have to be willing to stand on the truth, and to speak the truth in love, even against lies which are being spread, and even at the risk of lies being said about me. I have to stand if I have to stand alone, though I am not alone. And I can’t be concerned about what people will think of me or if they will like me or not. So, the Lord prepared me for this through my suffering.
So, if you have suffered abuse in your life or if you are still suffering abuse and mistreatment for no fault of your own, and if people are lying to you and against you, and if you feel as though you are all alone, please know that Jesus cares. Please know that he died for you on that cross to save you from your sins and to give you a new life in Him with purpose and direction.
So, repent of your sins, follow Jesus in obedience to his will for your life, and surrender your life fully to him. Give him all your pain and suffering and let him heal you. And then let him use you for his purposes and for his glory as he had planned for your life from even before he formed the earth. And he will fulfill his purpose for you, and you will be blessed beyond measure.
YOU RAISE ME UP
Brendan Graham / Rolf Lovland
When I am down and, oh my soul, so weary
When troubles come and my heart burdened be…
You raise me up, so I can stand on mountains
You raise me up, to walk on stormy seas
I am strong, when I am on your shoulders
You raise me up to more than I can be.
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